Guwahati: Opposition events in Assam have lambasted the Election Fee’s (EC) draft proposal for the delimitation of meeting and parliamentary constituencies within the state, alleging that it’s partisan in the direction of the ruling BJP.
Questions have additionally been raised over the methodology and timing of the draft, which comes amid the ethnic strife in neighbouring Manipur and fewer than a 12 months earlier than the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Launched by the EC Tuesday, the delimitation proposal maintains Assam’s complete Lok Sabha and meeting seats at 14 and 126 respectively. Nevertheless, it raises the variety of meeting seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes from eight to 9, and the Scheduled Tribes’ seats from 16 to 19.
Moreover, the boundaries or nomenclature of some Lok Sabha and meeting seats have been redefined. Whereas sure earlier meeting constituencies now not determine within the listing, new seats have emerged.
One notable change proposed within the draft is the alteration of the Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency’s identify to ‘Kaziranga’. Kaliabor has lengthy been a Congress stronghold, particularly that of the late Tarun Gogoi, a Congress chief and former chief minister, and his household. It has been represented by his son Gaurav Gogoi since 2014.
Chatting with ThePrint, Gogoi alleged that the EC’s draft listing was “purely designed with electoral motives” to learn the BJP, together with breaking apart the Kaliabor LS seat.
“The draft delimitation listing ready by the EC relies on electoral math, and is an try to weaken the opposition events,” he stated. “The Kaliabor seat is one that each different get together had been eying for a few years. It was gained by my late father, Tarun Gogoi, and the Congress many instances. On this draft listing, they’ve tried to splinter the Kaliabor LS into completely different constituencies. Whether or not this listing turns into remaining or not, we’ll wait to see.”
The BJP, in the meantime, has denied such allegations.
Assam BJP spokesperson Dewan Dhrubajyoti Ethical stated the EC had ready the draft after session with all political events, and the BJP had no function in it.
“Our get together welcomes the draft delimitation proposal and we assist the steps taken by the EC within the curiosity of the indigenous Assamese folks. The EC workforce had visited the state and held consultations with opposition events earlier than making ready the draft,” Ethical stated.
“Like different events, we too have our points, and can apprise the EC throughout the subsequent consultative assembly,” he added.
The Election Fee has invited options and objections to the draft proposal till July 11, following which an EC workforce will revisit the state for a public listening to.
A workforce of EC officers led by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Rajiv Kumar had visited Assam in March to observe the train, and soak up options from stakeholders.
Among the many considerations raised again then was that the EC sought to redraw meeting and Lok Sabha constituencies utilizing 2001 reasonably than 2011 Census figures.
In a press assertion Tuesday, the EC confirmed that it has used the 2001 figures for the delimitation train, acknowledging that “some teams have been in favour, and a few towards this.”
The draft thus far has drawn a largely beneficial response from the BJP and its allies, however numerous opposition events, from the Congress to the All-India United Democratic Entrance (AIUDF) to the Trinamool Congress, have raised objections for numerous causes.
Additionally Learn: In 1st Assam delimitation since 1976, EC faces NRC problem, claims of train being ‘politically motivated’
Kaliabor to Kaziranga
Taking to Twitter after the EC launched its draft listing, Gaurav Gogoi complained that the Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency had been “dismembered” and that the “motive is apparent” given the approaching basic elections.
Not stunned to seek out that the draft delimitation listing launched by the Election Fee has dismembered my Lok Sabha seat Kaliabor. The listing has a number of errors and faults. With lower than a 12 months left for the polls the motive is apparent. However nothing can cease the winds of change.
— Gaurav Gogoi (@GauravGogoiAsm) June 20, 2023
The current Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency in central Assam is a basic class seat, spreading throughout Golaghat, Jorhat, Morigaon, and Nagaon districts.
It presently spans 10 meeting constituencies — Samaguri, Kaliabor, Dhing, Golaghat, Bokakhat, Dergaon (SC), Batadroba, Rupohihat, Sarupathar, and Khumtai.
Based on Election Fee knowledge, the constituency had over 17.3 lakh voters within the 2019 elections. About 31 p.c of the voters listed below are Muslim, in response to knowledge from the 2011 Census.
The proposed new Lok Sabha seat of Kaziranga will comprise 10 meeting segments — Kaliabor, Barhampur, Hojai, Lumding, Golaghat, Dergaon, Bokakhat, Khumtai, Sarupathar, and the newly shaped Binnakandi meeting constituency.
The Congress’s Gogoi clan has gained the LS seat since 1998. In 2014, Gaurav Gogoi defeated the BJP’s Mrinal Kumar Saikia. In 2019, he gained once more, with Moni Madhab Mahanta of the Asom Gana Parishad, a BJP ally, coming second.
‘They wish to reduce down Muslim votes’
One of many meeting segments that has been introduced underneath the proposed Kaziranga Lok Sabha constituency is Hojai, the house turf of AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal, who has alleged that the draft delimitation proposal was “masterminded by the BJP”.
“They wish to reduce down Muslim votes. I think this draft is a creation of the BJP and completed with malicious intent,” Ajmal stated, addressing the media in Guwahati Wednesday.
“The BJP and the Congress are collectively on this — as a result of they don’t need every other get together in Assam,” he additional alleged. “The Congress will acquire seats. They used to say we’re the B workforce of the BJP. In actuality, the Congress is the A+ workforce of BJP in Assam. We’ll go to the Election Fee towards this draft proposal,” he remarked.
Notably, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma introduced the merger of Hojai district with Nagaon final December, claiming that this was “within the curiosity of Assam’s future and administrative ease”.
An vital meeting constituency within the now defunct Hojai district is Jamunamukh, held by Ajmal’s brother Sirajuddin Ajmal since 2021, and likewise from 2006 to 2014.
Nevertheless, within the draft delimitation proposal, Jamunamukh constituency is nowhere to be discovered, changed as an alternative by a brand new constituency, Binnakandi, with redrawn boundaries. Binnakandi block was previously a part of the Jamunamukh meeting constituency.
One other blow to the AIUDF and the Congress is the whole wipe-out of the Dhing meeting seat, which is a part of the Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency.
Thought-about a Muslim stronghold, Dhing is presently represented by controversial AIUDF chief and three-time MLA Aminul Islam, who was elected from the constituency in 2011, 2016, and 2021. He had gained by 1,45,888 votes within the final meeting election.
In February 2017, Islam was suspended from the meeting for 3 days for live-streaming his speech within the Home. In 2021, he created a stir when he claimed Mughal emperor Aurangzeb had donated land for the Maa Kamakhya temple in Guwahati.
Since 2006, Dhing has been within the palms of the AIUDF, however in 1991, 1996, and 2001, the seat was gained by Congress leaders Muzibar Rahman, Mustafa Shahidul Islam, and Idris Ali respectively.
The draft proposal additionally suggests transferring the meeting constituencies of Batadraba, Rupohihat, and Samaguri from Kaliabor LS seat to the Nagaon Lok Sabha constituency.
In the meantime, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma has dismissed considerations across the disappearance of some seats.
“Some who must forfeit their seats owing to the modifications in delimitation are trying to make this right into a state concern. My very own seat, Jalukbari, now not exists, however for the bigger curiosity of the folks, I can’t make a fuss about it. I do know from wherever I contest, I shall be accepted with love,” the CM remarked whereas interacting with mediapersons in Guwahati this week.
‘Welcome transfer’ for Bodoland
Sarma lauded the delimitation draft Tuesday, saying that it’s for the “safety of the indigenous Assamese communities together with the hill tribes and ethnic teams throughout Higher Assam, Decrease Assam, Central Assam, Barak and Brahmaputra Valleys”.
The variety of meeting seats within the autonomous Bodoland Territorial Area (BTR) has elevated from 16 to 19. Equally, the West Karbi Anglong hill district has gained an meeting constituency.
Pramod Boro, the president of the United Folks’s Get together Liberal (UPPL) — a BJP ally — and chief government member of the Bodoland Territorial Council, has welcomed the draft delimitation proposal.
Chatting with ThePrint, Boro stated he was particularly happy in regards to the EC’s determination to retain the Kokrajhar Lok Sabha constituency as a reserved seat for the Scheduled Tribes within the Bodoland Territorial Area (BTR), which includes the districts of Udalguri, Chirang, Kokrajhar, and Baksa.
Whereas Bodos are concentrated within the BTC areas of Assam, their affect extends to different constituencies, notably within the Sonitpur, Golaghat, and Karbi Anglong areas.
“We’re glad that our space has garnered extra seats and Kokrajhar constituency is a reserved parliamentary constituency. Kokrajhar has at all times been a tribal seat. Our illustration in Parliament and our grievances and aspirations as one of many primitive tribes of the nation have been fulfilled by the Kokrajhar LS seat,” Boro informed ThePrint.
Nevertheless, Boro has requested that the federal government additionally contemplate Udalguri as a reserved Lok Sabha constituency for the Scheduled Tribes. The delimitation draft proposes that sure elements of Baksa district and the Udalguri (ST) meeting seat — presently a part of the Mangaldoi Lok Sabha constituency — be included within the Darrang Lok Sabha constituency, together with Tamulpur (ST), Goreswar, Bhergaon, Sipajhar, Mangaldoi, and some different areas.
“Throughout session, we had put up our points and had requested the EC that as per the provisions underneath Sixth Schedule, the 2 constituencies of Kokrajhar and Udalguri ought to be reserved for tribals,” stated Boro.
He additional emphasised that not solely Bodos, but additionally different communities within the Bodoland areas may have illustration, because the variety of basic constituencies is ready to extend. The draft proposal contains the addition of three new meeting constituencies that aren’t reserved for tribals. These are Goreswar underneath the Darrang parliamentary constituency, and Gobardhana and Parbatjhora within the Kokrajhar Lok Sabha constituency.
“In our areas, minorities are additionally glad as a result of they’ll have illustration within the basic seats. Within the technique of delimitation, we by no means focused any group or tribe, whereas giving our options to the EC,” Boro stated.
Questions over ‘haste’, NRC, Manipur issue
The delimitation draft has come underneath hearth from the Congress for numerous causes.
Terming it “unscientific,” Congress MP from Barpeta Abdul Khaleque stated it “violates delimitation tips for political causes”.
Taking to Twitter Wednesday, Khaleque remarked: “Formally, it’s (a) draft of the Election Fee of India, however virtually it’s of Himanta Biswa Sarma.”
Delimitation draft of Assam constituencies is complete unscientific . It violates delimitation tips for political causes. Formally it is draft of Election Fee of India, however virtually it is of @himantabiswa . Administrative items has been damaged pointless .
— Abdul Khaleque (@MPAbdulKhaleque) June 21, 2023
In his tweet, he stated that administrative items had been “unnecessarily” damaged. He elaborated additional on this at a press meet in Guwahati.
“They’ve demolished administrative items, which is towards the first situation of the delimitation train,” he stated.
“In Lok Sabha constituencies, for instance, they’ve dissolved an administrative unit of Goalpara district by shifting it to Guwahati. Equally, in Bongaigaon district, two constituencies have been moved underneath Barpeta district and one other to Dhubri. Two different constituencies in Barpeta district have been moved to Dhubri. Distant locations have been linked to much more distant areas,” Khaleque added..
“For legislative assemblies, it’s a horrible proposition. Not simply blocks, they’ve damaged numerous gram panchayats too, simply to make sure the curiosity of the BJP,” he additional alleged.
MP Gaurav Gogoi additionally expressed concern over “the haste the EC has proven in publishing the delimitation draft”, particularly within the backdrop of the ethnic battle in BJP-ruled Manipur, the place greater than 100 folks have died and full communities have been displaced.
“Within the wake of what has occurred in Manipur, I hope the BJP is not going to do something that can undermine the delicate regulation and order state of affairs in Assam, as a result of usually a polarised surroundings helps them” Gogoi stated.
“That is nothing past an try to avoid wasting the fortunes of the BJP in Assam. This draft has not been made on the idea of administrative effectivity or the considerations of native folks, however basically by evaluating the election outcomes of final two Lok Sabha elections and meeting elections,” he alleged.
Based on him, the “unexpectedly ready draft” may affect relations between numerous ethnic, spiritual, and linguistic communities.
“It has the potential to create division between Assamese Hindus vs Bengali Hindus, tribals vs Bengalis, Bodos vs non-Bodos, Scheduled Caste vs Non secular minorities, Scheduled Caste vs Basic Group,” he added.
In the meantime, rejecting the draft delimitation proposal, Assam Trinamool Congress chief Ripun Bora stated in a press assertion that “with out completion of the Nationwide Register of Residents (NRC), the draft delimitation in Assam on the idea of 2001 can’t be accepted”.
He alleged that the BJP is eyeing electoral good points by voter division, for which the delimitation proposal was put out in haste.
Nevertheless, CEC Kumar in his go to to Assam had clarified that the processes for delimitation and NRC are “two completely different points” and there was no “authorized bar” on carrying them out individually or concurrently.
EC to go to Assam for public listening to
Ideas and objections to the draft proposal are open for submission till July 11, after which the Election Fee will conduct a public listening to in Assam. In a March go to to the state, the CEC and different EC officers had gathered inputs from stakeholders.
Opposition events had then raised considerations about the usage of 2001 Census knowledge as an alternative of the more moderen 2011 Census information, the authority of the EC in conducting the delimitation as an alternative of the Delimitation Fee, and the timing of the train shortly earlier than the 2024 parliamentary elections, provided that the delimitation of constituencies for your entire nation is scheduled for 2026.
In its assertion this week, the EC famous that it had obtained and regarded “representations from 11 political events and 71 different organisations”.
Among the many options from political events and organisations listed within the EC press assertion was the necessity for the Fee to “significantly look into the inhabitants sample in Decrease Assam”.
“Contemplating the demographic change in Higher Assam, seats in Higher Assam shouldn’t be decreased as those that are following the Nationwide Start Coverage shouldn’t endure,” reads one of many options that the EC workforce took under consideration.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)
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