Assam: Political parties slam EC over plan to realign constituencies

Guwahati: As per draft, assembly seats reserved for SC increased from to nine from eight and for ST to 19 from 16.

BY | Thursday, 22 June, 2023

A day after the Election Commission published draft delimitation proposals for assembly and parliamentary seats in Assam, the ruling alliance and opposition parties Wednesday criticised the plan to realign constituencies.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma expressed sadness over trifurcation of his Jalukbari constituency, while the opposition slammed the EC for acting as “an extended arm of BJP” under a “conspiracy to safeguard” the vote bank of the saffron party.

The poll panel on Tuesday notified the draft delimitation document by retaining the number of assembly seats in Assam at 126 and the Lok Sabha constituencies at 14. The state also has seven Rajya Sabha seats.

As per the draft, the assembly seats reserved for Scheduled Castes are increased from to nine from eight and for Scheduled Tribes to 19 from 16. For the parliamentary constituencies, two have been proposed under the ST category and one for the SC community.

The commission has also planned to alter the geographical boundaries of most of the constituencies, both assembly and the Lok Sabha, while eliminating some seats and creating a few new ones.

“The draft delimitation published by ECI stipulate that the current Jalukbari constituency, which I have represented since 2001, will no longer exist as it has been divided into three parts.

“I am feeling very saddened by this news. However, I welcome the draft paper as it accurately reflects the sentiments of Assam,” Sarma said in a tweet.

He later told reporters that with implementation of the proposals, Assam will be “politically saved” with interests of indigenous communities protected for the future.

Assam Congress President Bhupen Kumar Borah questioned the central election agency for hurriedly publishing the draft when the matter is sub judice in the Supreme Court.

“Some eminent citizens moved the Hon’ble SC, and the SC have given 25th July’2023 as the date for final hearing. Therefore, while the matter is sub judice, it is astonishing — and a direct affront to the Hon’ble SC — that the ECI have come out with a draft Delimitation document without waiting for the SC judgement,” he tweeted.

Borah said the state Congress never opposed the delimitation exercise in-principle, but it had on January 1 this year met EC officials in Delhi and asked for clarification on various aspects.

“However, they failed to give us a reply… Doesn’t this show that the EC is acting like an extended arm of the BJP?” he said.

Ruling alliance Asom Gana Parishad’s Prodip Hazarika strongly opposed the draft proposal, which eliminated his constituency Amguri in Upper Assam.

“Amguri has historical importance and we cannot accept complete deletion of the constituency. This cannot be accepted at all. We will protest this move when the EC members visit Assam next month,” he said.

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel are slated to visit Assam in July for a public hearing on the draft proposal.

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