The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong dithers on delimitation nod

New Delhi, April 3: The delimitation of constituencies may yet turn out to be a case of the Centre proposing and the Opposition approving.

The Centre had convened, last month, an all-party meeting on whether delimitation should proceed on the basis of the 1991 census or start afresh according to the 2001 census.

“The meeting would not have been called in the first place if the government had no intention of making the 2001 census the basis for delimitation of Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies,” a Congress leader said.

The meeting was ostensibly called to obtain Opposition support for the constitutional amendment necessary for the exercise, he said. Parliamentary leaders of political parties had agreed to submit their views in writing within a fortnight.

Indications from the Congress show the leadership might bow to the “overwhelming views” of its Lok Sabha members and endorse the 2001 census proposal.

But the party is yet to write to the Centre though the 15-day limit to convey its view is over. Party chief Sonia Gandhi might do so by this weekend. “It awaits Sonia’s approval,” a party leader said.

The delay in writing to the Centre could be attributed to the party’s concern that its decision might not go down well with the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Congress sources said. These groups believe it would delay benefits from the delimitation as the fresh exercise is unlikely to be over before the next Parliamentary polls.

The benefits would derive from these sections’ increased representation in the Lok Sabha and Assemblies.

More importantly, these groups fear that the controversy over the 1991 vs 2001 census is meant to stall indefinitely the delimitation process and, thus, maintain status quo.

As a result, the Congress leadership is deliberating whether it could avoid sending a negative signal that the delimitation process is being sought to be scuttled and, at the same time, fulfil the desire of most of its Lok Sabha MPs to fight the next polls under the existing delimitation.

One idea was to allow the delimitation work, based on the 1991 census, to continue unhindered and also ensure that the consultation process in this regard is made so exhaustive that the fresh delimitation is not ready by the next polls.

The bottomline is that the Congress leadership is willing to meet its MPs’ expectations.

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