Himanta Biswa Sarma backs delimitation move in Assam
Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma endorsed the Centre’s decision for delimitation of constituencies in the state and said delimitation should be done while focusing on the interests of the indigenous people of the state.
Sarma said without proper delimitation of the constituencies of the state, the indigenous people of the state would remain vulnerable.
He said, “It’s a welcome step by the Centre. But the delimitation should happen keeping the interest of the indigenous people of the state as a priority. There need not be any addition to the existing numbers of constituencies in the state but the delimitation should be done in such a manner that the political rights of the indigenous people are protected.”
Sarma said, “The delimitation should be done so that out of 126 Assembly seats, at least 110 seats should be meant for the indigenous people of the state.”
Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Assembly, Debabrata Saikia said the delimitation process in the state would become futile until the complete update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
There are 126 legislative and 14 Lok Sabha Assembly constituencies in the state.
Delimitation is the process of determining the boundaries of territorial constituencies to represent the change in population and to provide equal representation to different segments of a population.
The minister also said without proper delimitation of the state, the political protection of the locals would not be possible.
“Many believe that simply by reserving the constituencies for indigenous candidates will protect the state’s future. For the safeguard of the constitutional rights of the voters as well as the elected leaders, delimitation is essential. It will ensure the safety of the whole community for the next 50 years at least,” he added.
The recently submitted report of the high-powered committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord reportedly suggested reservation of seats in the state Assembly and Parliament for the indigenous people of the state.
Following the President’s nod for delimitation of constituencies, Opposition parties and civil society groups in Assam have opposed it, saying with the update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) yet to be completed, such an exercise in the state would create more complications.
In 2007, when the Centre had initiated delimitation in Assam, an all-party delegation from Assam had pleaded before the then Union home minister Shivraj Patil, saying that the exercise cannot be executed in a “just and proper” manner in the state until the NRC was updated and insurgency brought under control.
Subsequently, the Election Commission had notified that the exercise would remain postponed till “such time as the NRC is updated to reflect the true population configuration in the state”.