An ordinance will be promulgated to end the delimitation exercise in the four northeastern states and block implementation of the report in Jharkhand, but the next general elections elsewhere would be based on redrawn constituencies.
The Cabinet has decided to bring in an ordinance to exempt the four northeastern states from the delimitation process and Jharkhand from the proposed notification to be issued to hold the next election on the basis of the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission, Information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi announced after the Union Cabinet cleared the Ordinance.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had chaired the cabinet meeting, later called on President Pratibha Patil. Besides discussing Singh's visit to China, the two leaders reviewed recent national developments including the follow-up action on the report of the Delimitation Commission at the 30-minute meeting, a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said.
Sources said the government expected Rashtrapati Bhavan to promulgate the Ordinance by late Thursday night or on Friday. The ordinance amends the Delimitation Commission Act taking the four states — Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh — out of the purview of the commission.
The Delimitation Commission headed by retried Supreme Court judge Kuldip Singh has submitted its report to the government for all states except for the four northeastern states, where judicial intervention had barred the commission from continuing the exercise till recently.
The amendment to the Delimitation Commission would also empower the government to exempt Jharkhand from the notification of the recast constituencies where the number of reserved seats had declined due to the change in demographic profile.
Dasmunsi said the government had accepted the commission's report for the rest of the states but pointed out that it was up to the election commission to decide when elections could be held according to the new political map.
Sources also said that the government was considering two distinct options. The first was to approach the president to approve the notification implementing the redrawn constituencies; the second to hold on to the report till March-April, till Parliament clears the ordinance.
The second option lets the government determine the timing of the report.
But there is pressure building from MPs to notify the constituencies so that they can start figuring how to cope with the changes. Boundaries of nearly 400 parliamentary constituencies are have been affected due to the delimitation exercise. It was this concern of the lingering uncertainty that prompted Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, BJP vice president, to go a step further than the party president Rajnath Singh's demand for early implementation of the report.
Rlys Freight Corridor project
The Cabinet has given its approval for promulgating an Ordinance to amend the Railways Act, 1989 for expeditious acquisition of land for special railway projects. The Ordinance will be replaced by a Bill in the coming Budget Session of Parliament.
The move is basically aimed at helping the Railways to speedily acquire private land for its ambitious Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project that proposes construction of two corridors between Delhi and Mumbai and Delhi and Kolkata for faster movement of freight traffic.
Besides the DFC, the Railways will also have to acquire private land for building a world class railway station at New Delhi and 21 other prominent cities, a senior official said.