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Party leaders to debate delimitation exercise

The meeting will discuss the problems arising from the ongoing exercise of delimitation of constituencies.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2006 09:17 IST
Saroj Nagi

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has convened an all-party meeting on Friday to discuss the problems arising from the ongoing exercise of delimitation of constituencies by the Delimitation Commission headed by Justice Kuldeep Singh.

The mandate of the commission is to redraw the boundaries of constituencies to make it more equitable in terms of population without increasing the number of seats in elected legislatures. The panel has got an extension till next July to complete its task.

Friday's meeting would go into the problems of delimitation, like the possible reduction of rural seats and a corresponding increase in urban constituencies because of migration.

There are also issues, like the need to maintain a balance between the hill and plain areas, and scheduled castes and tribal populations. The meeting is also likely to examine the implications the introduction of the women's reservation bill during the winter session of Parliament can have on the delimitation exercise.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are keen to bring the bill in its original form in Parliament during the winter session.

"If Parliament passes the women's quota bill, the Delimitation Commission will only have to identify the one-third seats that have to be earmarked for women. Since the groundwork of redrawing boundaries is already being undertaken, it will not be difficult. But if an attempt is made to increase the number of seats in the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies, the whole delimitation exercise undertaken so far will become redundant. The Delimitation Commission, which has already completed the exercise in nine states, will have to start afresh. We will not accept this proposal at all,'' said Basudeb Acharia of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). He also noted that there is a cap on increasing seats till 2026 and any move to remove this freeze will require a constitutional amendment. 

Acharia was referring to Home Minister Shivraj Patil's proposal that the number of seats in the Lok Sabha be hiked from 545 to 723 and the increased seats reserved for women. A similar ratio would be worked out for state assemblies under this proposal.

But with Acharia opposing the move, the government may find it difficult to push it through.