The Election Commission of India today published the draft proposal for delimitation of Assembly & Parliamentary Constituencies for Assam as provided for in Section 8-A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950. Procedure for the delimitation process has been followed as laid down in the relevant laws viz. Section 8 A of the R. P. Act, 1950 read with Section 9 (1) (c) and (d) of the Delimitation Act, 2002 (33 of 2002), Article 82, 170, 330 and 332 of the Constitution of India. The last delimitation exercise in Assam was carried out in 1976.
All Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the State are to be delimited on the basis of the 2001 Census as provided in Article 170 and Article 82 of the Constitution. The census figures of 2001, as published by the Census Commissioner have thus alone been considered for this purpose. The number of seats in the Legislative Assembly and the House of People in the State of Assam has been retained as 126 and 14 respectively. Articles 170 & 82 laid down that the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of each State and the allocation of seats in the House of the people to the States shall not be altered until the relevant figures for the first census taken after year 2026 have been published.
19 seats in the Legislative Assembly are proposed to be allocated for Scheduled Tribes out of 126 seats, while 2 seats are proposed to be allocated for Scheduled Tribes out of 14 seats in House of People allocated to the State of Assam. Similarly, 09 seats in the Legislative Assembly are proposed to be allocated for Scheduled Castes, while 1 seat is proposed to be allocated for Scheduled Castes in House of People.
|Proposed ACs||Legislative Assembly Constituencies||Parliamentary Constituencies|
Some salient features of the draft proposal
- Lowest administrative unit shall be ‘Village’ in rural areas and ‘Ward’ and urban areas and village and ward have been kept intact and have not been broken anywhere in the State
- SC assembly seats have increased from 8 to 9; ST assembly seats have increased from 16 to 19;
- Increase of 01 assembly seat in Autonomous districts in West Karbi Anglong District;
- Increase of Assembly Constituencies (ACs) in Bodoland districts from 16 to 19;
- Retaining Diphu and Kokrajhar Parliamentary seats reserved for ST;
- Continuing Lakhimpur Parliamentary seat as unreserved;
- 01 unreserved AC in Dhemaji district;
- 01 Parliamentary seat namely ‘Diphu’ reserved for ST which comprises 06 ACs of 03 Autonomous districts;
- 02 Parliamentary seats given to the Barak Valley districts i.e., Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts.
- 01 Parliamentary seat named as Kaziranga.
- The draft proposal has been prepared based on administrative units i.e., Development block, Panchayats (VCDC in BTAD) and village in rural areas and Municipal Boards, wards in urban areas.
The Commission comprising of Chief Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar along with Election Commissioners Shri Anup Chandra Pandey and Shri Arun Goel is slated to visit Assam again in July 2023 for a public hearing on the draft proposal.
Guidelines & Methodology:
- The Commission devised the Guidelines and Methodology keeping in mind the constitutional and legal provisions and the suggestions received in the representations.
- For the purpose of delimitation of constituencies in the State, Statistical Data and maps were sought from the Chief Electoral Officer of the State of Assam, who in turn took the data from all the districts w.r.t. 2001 census and maps with administrative units, i.e., District/ Development Block/Panchayat or VCDC (Village Council Development Committee)/ village/ ward etc., as in existence as on 1st January, 2023.
- Efforts have been made to keep all constituencies, as far as practicable, as geographically compact areas, and in delimiting them, regard has been had to the physical features, density of population, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and public convenience. Deviation to certain extent from the State and District average has been allowed due to huge inter-district variation in certain cases in terms of factors such as geographical features, density of population, means of communication, public convenience, contiguity of the areas and necessity to avoid breaking of administrative units and as constituencies cannot be delimited having exactly equal population in all cases. In the State of Assam, since last delimitation (1976), number of districts have increased from 10 to 31 and similarly number of administrative units at Development Block and Gram Panchayat levels have undergone drastic changes.
- Several representations were also received by the Commission pointing out the uneven population growth pattern in the State of Assam. While some districts have undergone more population growth since last delimitation, some districts have witnessed less population growth. It is seen that the population density in the districts of the State varies from 38 persons per square km in Dima Hasao district to 1096 persons per square km in Kamrup (Metropolitan) district.
- Taking all these factors into account, the Commission has categorized all 31 districts in three broad categories A, B and C giving margin of (+/-) 10% of average population per Assembly Constituency (AC), while proposing allocation of the constituencies to the districts.
- The average population density of the state is 338 persons per sq.km. A population density range of 304 (subtracting 10% from the average population density) to 372 (adding 10% to the average population density) has been established and on this basis, the above said three categories have been made as given below:
A- Districts having population density less than 304 persons per sq. km.
B- Districts having population density between 304 to 372 persons per sq. km.
C- Districts having population density more than 372 persons per sq. km.
- Assembly seats to the districts have been allocated on the basis of category of the district. Category A, B and C districts have been allocated seats based on average AC population of 1,90,397 (State average AC population -10%), 2,11,552 (State average AC population) and 2,32,707 (State average AC population +10%) respectively. Number of seats for a particular category district has been arrived at by dividing the total population of the district by the average AC population of category A, B, C as applicable to the district. The fraction of equal to or greater than 0.5 has been treated as 1(one) and fraction of less than 0.5 has been treated 0 (Zero). On this basis, 122 Assembly seats are allotted to the districts. 04 Assembly seats were left out from allocation while adopting this criterion. All the districts having a fraction in the range of 0.25-0.49 were sorted out and of such 10 districts, 04 districts having the largest geographical area were allocated one seat each i.e., Cachar, Kokrajhar, West Karbi Anglong and Udalguri.
Reservation of seats for SCs and STs
- Total number of ACs to be reserved for SCs has been determined based on the proportion of population of SCs to the total population of the State:
2001 SC Population = 1825949
2001 Total Population = 26655528
Proportion of SCs = 0.0685
Total No. of ACs in the State = 126
No. of Assembly seats to be reserved = 8.63, say, 9
Total No. of PCs = 14
No. of PCs to be reserved = 0.96, say, 1
- Then, SC seats have been allocated to the districts first in proportion to proportional SC population in the district to the total SC population in the State. Within the districts, the seats with highest proportional SC population (to the total population of AC) have been reserved for SC. Similarly, the PC with highest proportional SC population (to the total population of the PC) has been reserved for SC.
- As per clause (6) of Article 332 of the Constitution, “No person who is not a member of a Scheduled Tribe of any autonomous district of the State of Assam shall be eligible for election to the Legislative Assembly of the State from any constituency of that district”: Accordingly, all seats in the three Autonomous districts (i.e., 6) are meant for STs residing in districts. In the remaining districts (except 03 Autonomous Districts), Total number of ACs to be reserved for STs have been determined based on the proportion of population of STs in these districts to the total population of the State and this number comes to 13.
- As per provision to the clause (6) of Article 332 of the Constitution, “Provided that for elections to the Legislative Assembly of the State of Assam, the representation of the Scheduled Tribes and non-Scheduled Tribes in the constituencies included in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District, so notified, and existing prior to the constitution of Bodoland Territorial Areas District, shall be maintained”. Accordingly, 06 number of ACs in 04 Bodoland districts (existing 06 ST ACs out of total 11) have been proposed for STs out of total 15 seats.
- Remaining 07 seats (13-6) have been allotted to the remaining districts (Except 03 Autonomous districts and 04 BTAD districts). Then, ACs have been arranged in decreasing order of Proportional ST population (to the total population of AC) in the ACs in these districts and top 7 seats have been reserved for the STs.
- No. of ST seats in 03 Autonomous Districts = 6
Total ST Population in remaining 28 Districts = 2727179
Total Population of remaining 28 Districts = 25654138
%age of ST in these 28 Districts = 10.63%
No. of ST seats in these 28 Districts= 120*10.63/100 = 13
ST seats in BTAD = 6
ST seats in remaining 24 Districts = 7
Total ST seats = 19
- As per Article 330 (2): The number of seats reserved in any State or Union territory for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes under clause (1) shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats allotted to that State or Union territory in the House of the People as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the State or Union territory or of the Scheduled Tribes in the State or Union territory or part of the State or Union territory, as the case may be, in respect of which seats are so reserved, bears to the total population of the State or Union territory.
2001 ST Population =33,08,570
2001 Total Population = 26655528
Proportion of STs = 0.124
No. of ST PCs =1.74, say, 2
It may be recalled that the Commission visited Assam from 26.3.2023 to 28.03.2023 and held personal interactions with political parties, public representatives, civil societies, social organizations, members of public and officers of the Administration in the State including Chief Electoral Officer, Deputy Commissioners of all Districts of the State and District Election Officers regarding delimitation exercise in the State. In total, representations from 11 Political Parties and 71 other organizations were received and considered.
The Commission went through all the representations inter-alia covering the following the major suggestions:
- Delimitation on the basis of 2001 census: Some groups were in favour and some against this.
- The change of demographic pattern of the State should be looked into during implementation of delimitation process. In some districts of Assam, the population growth is low while in some districts, it is abnormally high. Low population growth districts should not be put to disadvantage and number of seats in these districts should not be reduced.
- At least variation of 25% should be allowed vis-à-vis the general norms, as required, to ensure that no social group feels alienated due to inadequate representation. This would also take care of diverse geographical features of Assam during the delimitation exercise.
- The rights of indigenous people of Assam should be protected in the delimitation exercise.
- Considering the lower demographic change in Upper Assam, seats in Upper Assam should not be decreased as those who are following the National Birth Policy should not suffer. The population pattern in lower Assam is higher for which the Commission should look into seriously.
- In upper Assam, Dhemaji and Jonai AC seats should be reserved for ST. Simultaneously, there was a demand that all seats in Dhemaji district should not be kept reserved.
- There should be one seat reserved for ST in Kamrup District. There was demand for new AC named Chamaria in Kamrup District. Dudhnoi AC seat should be reserved for ST in Goalpara District.
- Number of ST seats in Bodoland should remain intact and Kokrajhar should be reserved for ST. The number of AC seats in Bodoland should be increased.
- Number of ST seats should be increased in plain areas for benefit of plain tribes as their population has increased over the years.
- Seats should be increased in West Karbi Anglong District as presently the district has only one seat.
- There were suggestions based on local factors e.g., inclusion of certain areas in particular constituencies, compactness of certain areas in one AC, keeping interests of communities while carving out the seats.