The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Seat shuffle row in House

New Delhi, March 11: The growing concern within political parties and among MPs over the ongoing exercise of delimiting parliamentary and Assembly constituencies came out in the open in the Lok Sabha today.

Parliamentary affairs minister Sushma Swaraj offered to call an all-party meeting as members cutting across party lines took exception to the alleged “arbitrariness” on the part of the delimitation commission.

Raising the issue, Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan said Parliament and the Assemblies were unable to play their role, though the Act that set up the delimitation commission provided for participation of five members each of the Lok Sabha and the Assembly in every state as “associate members”.

Hardly anything of the sort was happening, he stressed.

Congress chief whip Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said the state electoral officers were supposed to involve the associate members but, without doing so, the suo motu draft on delimitation had been drawn up.

What was envisaged was a “readjustment” of the constituencies but the commission was recommending “reorganising” them, he said.

Das Munshi demanded that the law minister make a statement on the issue.

BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana said the issue was not partisan. In Delhi, the commission was working on its own, he said, pleading: “Our views must be considered.” He argued that the delimitation should be based on the latest available census (2001) and not on the 1991 census.

The brief impromptu discussion was provocation enough for a large number of members wanting express their grievances. Some, such as RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, were heard saying the commission should be scrapped. Speaker Manohar Joshi, however, did not allow further discussion, though he observed that the matter was “sensitive” and of “concern” to the members.

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