The Commission to Visit Assam Again in July 2023 for a Public Hearing on the Draft Proposal
In an important development, 126 Assam Legislative Assembly Constituencies the Election Commission of India has announced its plans to visit Assam once again in July 2023 for a public hearing on the draft proposal. This visit holds great significance as it provides an opportunity for political parties, organizations, and the general public to voice their opinions and concerns regarding the delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the state.
Retention of Assembly and Lok Sabha Seats
The number of Assembly seats in Assam has been retained at 126, while the number of Lok Sabha seats remains at 14. This decision ensures that the representation of the people in both the state legislative assembly and the national parliament remains consistent and in line with the constitutional provisions.
Wide Range of Representations Received
During the Commission’s previous visit to Assam in March earlier this year, it received representations from 11 political parties and 71 organizations. This demonstrates the active participation and engagement of various stakeholders in the democratic process. The upcoming public hearing in July aims to further enhance inclusivity and gather valuable inputs from a diverse range of voices.
Reservation of Seats for STs and SCs
In line with the principles of social justice and affirmative action, the draft proposal includes the reservation of seats for Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Scheduled Castes (SCs) in both the Legislative Assembly and the House of People. Specifically, 19 Assembly seats and 2 Parliamentary seats have been proposed to be allocated for STs, while 9 Assembly seats and 1 Parliamentary seat have been proposed for SCs. This ensures adequate representation and empowers marginalized communities in the democratic process.
|Proposed ACs||Legislative Assembly Constituencies||Parliamentary Constituencies|
Delimitation Process and Legal Framework
The delimitation process in Assam has been carried out in accordance with the relevant laws, including Section 8-A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, and the Delimitation Act, 2002. The constitutional provisions outlined in Article 82, 170, 330, and 332 of the Constitution of India have also been considered.
The last delimitation exercise in Assam took place in 1976. Now, all Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the state will be delimited based on the 2001 Census data, as mandated by Article 170 and Article 82 of the Constitution. These census figures have been meticulously analyzed and form the basis for the proposed delimitation.
Importance of Census Figures
The use of the 2001 Census figures as the reference for delimitation is a crucial aspect of the process. It ensures that the most up-to-date and accurate population data is taken into account for determining the boundaries of constituencies. By relying on the census figures, the Election Commission strives to create a fair and representative electoral system that aligns with the constitutional requirements.
The proposal for delimitation in Assam not only addresses the immediate need for fair representation but also takes into consideration the long-term perspective. Articles 170 and 82 of the Constitution clearly state that the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly and the allocation of seats in the House of People should not be altered until the relevant figures from the first census conducted after the year 2026 are published. This ensures stability and consistency in the political landscape of the state.
Public Hearing in July 2023
The forthcoming public hearing in July 2023 presents a valuable opportunity for individuals and organizations to actively participate in the democratic process. It allows them to express their opinions, concerns, and suggestions regarding the draft proposal for delimitation. This inclusive approach ensures that the final decision takes into account the aspirations and interests of the people of Assam.
Some Salient Features of the Draft Proposal for Constituency Delimitation in Assam
In the realm of democratic governance, it is crucial to ensure fair and representative electoral systems. The recent draft proposal for constituency delimitation in Assam has garnered significant attention due to its salient features. This article aims to delve into the key aspects of the proposal, highlighting its implications for the state’s political landscape.
Reconfiguring the Administrative Units
The draft proposal puts forth the lowest administrative unit as the “Village” in rural areas and the “Ward” in urban areas. Notably, this configuration has been maintained consistently throughout the state, without any fragmentation. By preserving the integrity of villages and wards, the proposal seeks to facilitate effective governance and grassroots representation.
Augmented Assembly Seats
An essential aspect of the draft proposal is the increase in assembly seats to enhance representation. The Scheduled Caste (SC) assembly seats have been raised from 8 to 9, while the Scheduled Tribe (ST) assembly seats have increased from 16 to 19. Furthermore, the Autonomous districts in West Karbi Anglong District have witnessed an additional assembly seat, strengthening democratic participation in the region.
Empowering Bodoland Districts
The draft proposal acknowledges the significance of Bodoland districts by increasing the Assembly Constituencies (ACs) from 16 to 19. This augmentation aims to empower the region and foster inclusive development through enhanced representation and local decision-making.
Ensuring Reserved Parliamentary Seats
The proposal upholds the reservation of Parliamentary seats for specific categories. Notably, the Diphu and Kokrajhar Parliamentary seats continue to be reserved for the Scheduled Tribes (ST). Additionally, the Lakhimpur Parliamentary seat remains unreserved, ensuring a diverse and inclusive democratic process.
Promoting Regional Balance
To address the regional dynamics of Assam, the draft proposal grants specific considerations. It designates an unreserved Assembly Constituency in the Dhemaji district, catering to the unique requirements and aspirations of the local population. Moreover, a parliamentary seat named “Diphu” is reserved for the ST category, encompassing six ACs from three Autonomous districts.
Representation for Barak Valley Districts
Recognizing the significance of the Barak Valley districts, namely Cachar, Hailakandi, and Karimganj, the draft proposal allots two Parliamentary seats to this region. This measure ensures effective representation and amplifies the voice of the communities residing in the Barak Valley.
The Inclusion of Kaziranga
The draft proposal introduces a new Parliamentary seat named “Kaziranga.” This initiative acknowledges the importance of the region and seeks to provide dedicated representation to the unique concerns and interests of the Kaziranga constituency.
Methodology and Guidelines
The formulation of the draft proposal was guided by a comprehensive methodology and set of guidelines. The Constitutional and legal provisions served as the foundation, supplemented by valuable suggestions received through representations. The Chief Electoral Officer of Assam played a pivotal role by providing statistical data and maps derived from the 2001 census, along with administrative units’ information.
In the pursuit of delineating constituencies, various factors were considered to ensure fairness and efficacy. The draft proposal aimed to create geographically compact areas, taking into account physical features, population density, existing administrative boundaries, communication infrastructure, and public convenience. While striving for balance, certain deviations from the State and District average were allowed due to the substantial inter-district variations in geographical characteristics, population density, means of communication, and contiguity of areas. The preservation of administrative units was a paramount concern, acknowledging the practical limitations in achieving perfectly equal populations for each constituency.
Addressing Population Disparities
The Commission received several representations highlighting uneven population growth patterns across Assam’s districts. Some districts experienced substantial population growth, while others witnessed comparatively slower growth. This disparity is evident in the population density, varying from 38 persons per square kilometer in Dima Hasao district to 1096 persons per square kilometer in Kamrup (Metropolitan) district. Consequently, the Commission categorized the 31 districts into three broad categories, namely A, B, and C, allowing a margin of (+/-) 10% of the average population per Assembly Constituency (AC) during the allocation process.
- Districts with a population density less than 304 persons per sq. km (Category A).
- Districts with a population density ranging from 304 to 372 persons per sq. km (Category B).
- Districts with a population density exceeding 372 persons per sq. km (Category C).
Public Hearing and Further Steps
The Commission, led by Chief Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar, along with Election Commissioners Shri Anup Chandra Pandey and Shri Arun Goel, is scheduled to visit Assam again in July 2023. This visit will facilitate a public hearing on the draft proposal, ensuring that the voices of the people are heard, and any relevant feedback is incorporated. The Commission remains committed to a transparent and inclusive process, guaranteeing the integrity and credibility of the final delimitation decision.
In conclusion, the draft proposal for constituency delimitation in Assam encompasses several salient features aimed at fostering fair and representative governance. By reconfiguring administrative units, augmenting assembly seats, ensuring reserved parliamentary seats, and considering regional dynamics, the proposal strives to create an equitable political landscape. The guidelines and methodology adopted for delimitation reflect a comprehensive approach, encompassing various factors to address population disparities and preserve administrative integrity. As the process unfolds, the public hearing in July 2023 will serve as a crucial platform for democratic engagement and constructive discourse.
Assembly Seats Allocation in Assam Based on District Categories
In the state of Assam, the allocation of assembly seats to the districts is determined based on the category of the district. The districts are classified into three categories: A, B, and C. Each category is allocated seats based on the average Assembly Constituency (AC) population. The state average AC population is taken as a reference, with category A being 10% below the average, category B being equal to the average, and category C being 10% above the average.
The number of seats allocated to a particular category district is calculated by dividing the total population of the district by the average AC population applicable to that category. If the resulting fraction is equal to or greater than 0.5, it is treated as 1 (one), and if it is less than 0.5, it is treated as 0 (zero). Overall, a total of 122 assembly seats are allotted to the districts, while 4 seats were left out from allocation using this criterion.
To ensure equitable representation, a sorting process is carried out for districts with fractions in the range of 0.25-0.49. Out of the 10 districts falling within this range, the 4 districts with the largest geographical areas, namely Cachar, Kokrajhar, West Karbi Anglong, and Udalguri, are allocated one seat each.
Reservation of Seats for SCs and STs
In Assam, reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) is implemented to provide adequate representation for these communities. The total number of Assembly Constituencies (ACs) to be reserved for SCs is determined based on the proportion of the SC population to the total population of the state.
According to the 2001 census data, the SC population in Assam was 1,825,949 out of a total population of 26,655,528. This translates to a proportion of 0.0685. With a total of 126 ACs in the state, approximately 9 seats are reserved for SCs.
Similarly, the reservation of seats for SCs at the Parliamentary Constituency (PC) level is determined based on the same proportion. In this case, 1 seat is reserved for SCs out of the total 14 PCs.
As for the allocation of SC seats at the district level, each district is assigned seats in proportion to its SC population relative to the total SC population in the state. The seats with the highest proportional SC population within the districts are reserved for SCs.
In accordance with Article 332 of the Constitution, the legislative assembly seats in the three Autonomous Districts (comprising 6 seats in total) are reserved for STs residing in those districts.
For the remaining districts (excluding the 3 Autonomous Districts), the number of ACs to be reserved for STs is determined based on the proportion of the ST population in those districts to the total population of the state. This calculation results in 13 seats reserved for STs.
The provision to maintain the representation of STs in the constituencies included in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) is also followed. Consequently, out of the 11 ACs in the 4 Bodoland districts, 6 seats are proposed for STs, with a total of 15 seats in those districts.
The remaining 7 seats (13-6) are allotted to the remaining districts, excluding the 3 Autonomous Districts and 4 BTAD districts. These seats are allocated based on the decreasing order of proportional ST population within the ACs in these districts, with the top 7 seats reserved for STs.
Taking into account the ST seats in the 3 Autonomous Districts (6 seats), the total ST population in the remaining 28 districts, and the total population of those districts, a calculation is made to determine the proportion of STs. As a result, 19 ST seats are reserved in these districts.
The allocation of assembly seats in Assam is a comprehensive process that takes into consideration various factors such as district categories, population proportions, and constitutional provisions for the representation of SCs and STs. The aim is to ensure fair and equitable representation for all sections of society.
By following these allocation guidelines, the Assam Assembly strives to create a balanced legislative body that accurately reflects the demographics and diversity of the state. The reservation of seats for SCs and STs plays a crucial role in providing representation to historically marginalized communities and fostering inclusivity within the political system.