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Delimitation panel firm on seat rejig exercise

New Delhi, June 20: The Delimitation Commission will continue to hold consultations with the people of Jharkhand and Assam but “cannot stop the exercise”, says a statement released by the commission late on Tuesday.

The problems in both the state are outside the purview of the commission, the statement added.

Jharkhand and Assam continue to protest over the delimitation exercise. Both states have their reasons for opposing the exercise. While Assam argues that unless the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is updated in accordance with the Assam Accord, the exercise should not take place, Jharkhand is opposed to reduction in number of scheduled tribe seats following delimitation. The commission said it is in the final stage of its work so far as the Assam and Jharkhand are concerned.

Public sittings in both the states have been abandoned following public agitations and prevailing situation in these states. Instead further suggestions and objections from the public have been invited by July 3 in the case of Jharkhand.

Elected members from Jharkhand are opposed to the exercise saying that reduction of scheduled tribe seats in the state will destroy the social fabric of Jharkhand. Accusing the commission of going by “false figures”, Jharkhand politicians have claimed that whatever erosion of tribal population is noticed is due to migration among other reasons.

For this, too the commission has reasons to offer. Only those seats are reserved where the population of scheduled castes/scheduled tribes is comparatively large. Where there is a cluster of scheduled caste seats, the commission makes an effort to distribute them.

However, in the process a constituency with a small Scheduled Caste population cannot be reserved leaving the one with large scheduled castes population, the commission has argued.

The commission took notice of criticism in media reports in these states. But the statement clarifies that delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies, in terms of the Delimitation Act, 2002, is mandatory. “There is total transparency in the commission (and it) cannot and would not permit gerrymandering which is anathema to the delimitation process,” the commission has asserted.

The commission has completed work in 20 states, including Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Orissa. In Manipur, the high court has struck down the 2001 census figures and the matter is pending before Supreme Court.

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