Women’s bill delinked
AN ALL-PARTY meeting on Friday rejected the proposal to increase the number of Lok Sabha and assembly seats, as it would abort the work done so far by the Delimitation Commission on delimiting constituencies on the basis of population.
The meeting stressed that the 2009 general elections be held on the basis of the redrawn constituencies and the women's reservation bill be de-linked from the ongoing exercise of delimiting seats and brought during the winter session of Parliament.
The consensus against any increase in Lok Sabha and assembly seats allayed fears that the work done so far by the Delimitation Commission would be jettisoned on the twin issues of earmarking seats for women and addressing the anomalies in the delimitation exercise.
"By and large, the consensus of the meeting was that the Delimitation Commission's work should continue and be completed on time," said Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee who will convey to the Delimitation Commission the views expressed at the meeting. The delimitation panel is currently engaged in redrawing boundaries to make constituencies equitable in terms of population and has to complete its work by July 2007.
A working paper circulated at the meeting proposed a one-third increase in Lok Sabha and assembly seats and a 25 per cent variation in population while delimiting constituencies to deal with emerging problems. These include the imbalance between rural and urban seats because of migration, the difference in the geographic spread of constituencies in the plains and hill areas, and an increase in reserved seats and a corresponding decline in general seats. There were also fears that the present exercise, coupled with the reservation of seats for women, would leave less than 250 of the 545 Lok Sabha seats for the general category.
"Almost all parties opposed the proposal of allowing a 25 per cent variation in population while redrawing the boundaries of constituencies," said CPM's Basudeb Acharia.