Parliamentarians stall delimitation process

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If the Delimitation Commission had been allowed to complete its work, Union Minister Vijay Goel’s Chandni Chowk constituency would have been merged with the constituency of Sadar by the end of the year, forcing him to nurse a much larger constituency just before the next general election.

It’s a prospect that clearly scares most politicians. So, cutting across party lines, MPs have managed to stall the process, suddenly passing a Parliamentary Bill which cancels the commission’s work based on 1991 census figures.

They say it must be based instead on the 2001 census.

The trouble is that these new figures will not be available till the end of the year, making it practically impossible for the commission to complete the reorganization of seats before the general election next year.

Kuldip Singh, Chairman, Delimitation Commission, said, “The reality is that the next general election for our friends in Parliament will on the existing seats only.”

The premise

The commission was set up to end the dichotomy of having constituencies like Chandni Chowk, with just four to five lakh voters, sitting side-by-side with others like the Sahib Singh Verma’s Outer Delhi, with as many as 39 lakh voters.

The Delimitation Commission had already finished 80 percent of its work, which will change the contours of 545 Lok Sabha seats and 4,033 assembly constituencies.
Though the total number of seats in each state will remain the same, their borders will be redrawn to give them equal populations.

The number of seats reserved for SC-STs in the Lok Sabha will increase by 15, forcing many politicians to shift base.

Politicians, however, insist that they would not be affected by the changes.

“My constituency would have changed but we will continue to serve the people,” said Labour Minister Sahib Singh Verma.

The reorganization of parliamentary constituencies will not only change the political landscape, it also threatens the career of many of our parliamentarians.

Scared of losing their constituencies, they have got together and practically managed to ensure that the process is not completed, at least before the next general election.


By Nalin Mehta in www.ndtv.com - May 11, 2003
www.ndtv.com