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Centre clears new political map

The delimitation exercise aims to redraw constituencies of a state in a way that the population of one is almost the same as the other, reports Aloke Tikku and Srinand Jha.
By Aloke Tikku and Srinand Jha | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 15, 2008 02:40 AM IST

The final seal of approval on the new electoral map of India is imminent. President Pratibha Patil is set to issue the Presidential Order for redrawing boundaries and reclassifying the reserved category status of 499 parliamentary and 3,645 assembly constituencies in 24 states — in effect redrawing the country’s political portrait.

The constituency maps will be valid through 2026.

The existing constituencies were drawn up on the basis of the 1971 census. Subsequent changes in population densities created imbalances like in Chandni Chowk and Outer Delhi, both parliamentary constituencies — the former has 4.5 lakh people, while the MP from the latter represents 38 lakh people.

The delimitation exercise — based on the 2001 headcount — aims to redraw constituencies of a state in a way that the population of one is almost the same as the other. “This decision will pave the way for election to the House of the People (Lok Sabha) and the legislative assembly of each state on the basis of new territorial constituencies in the rest of India,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi announced on Thursday after the Cabinet decided to recommend notification of the report of the Delimitation Commission headed by Justice (retd) Kuldip Singh for 24 states.

The presidential order is likely to be issued in the second week of March after the poll process in the three northeastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland is completed.

Since the Election Commission would need about four months to change electoral rolls so as to match the new political map, there is a probability that assembly elections in Karnataka (slated for May) may be deferred and get clubbed with elections in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Delimitation will also force prominent politicians like Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to move out of familiar territories. Constituencies represented by both Patil (Latur) and Chatterjee (Bolpur) are going to be reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates in the next general elections.

On January 11, the Union Cabinet had exempted Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland from the delimitation process.

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