Draft Delimitation Proposal: ECI Concludes 3-day Public Hearings, Over 6k Participated

During the last three days of the public hearings on the draft delimitation proposal for Assam, the Election Commission of India (ECI) heard over 1200 representations from 31 districts and held meetings with over 20 political parties.
Draft Delimitation Proposal: ECI Concludes 3-day Public Hearings, Over 6k Participated
Draft Delimitation Proposal: ECI Concludes 3-day Public Hearings, Over 6k Participated

During the last three days of the public hearings on the draft delimitation proposal for Assam, the Election Commission of India (ECI) heard over 1200 representations from 31 districts and held meetings with over 20 political parties.

In total, more than 6000 persons participated in the public hearings over the last three days. In marathon seatings, on July 20, hearings lasted more than 20 hours, cumulatively, as the three Commissioners conducted parallel hearings at 3 venues. Similar was for July 19 and July 21.

The screening of the gist of the 1000 odd representations received prior to the sittings, facilitated an on-the-spot confirmation of vital facts and identity of the stakeholder participation in this important exercise.

Representatives from National Parties - Aam Aadmi Party, Indian National Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Bhartiya Janata Party; State Parties - All India United Democratic Front, Asom Gana Parishad, United Peoples Party Liberal and Bodoland People’s Front shared their feedback and suggestions before the Commission.

United Opposition Forum Assam (Assam Pradesh Congress, Assam Jatiya Parishad, CPM, Raijor Dal, CPI, Jatiya Dal Assam, NCP, RJD, Janata Dal (U), TMC, CPI (ML) & others) and several Registered Unrecognized Political Parties (RUPPs) also participated.

The Commission comprising Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel held the hearings from representatives of the aforementioned political parties, civil society organisations and members of the public on the draft Delimitation proposal.

Some salient features of the representations during public hearings included:

The increase of SC Assembly seats from 8 to 9 and ST Assembly seats from 16-19 was widely welcomed by different organizations.

Several organizations also welcomed the draft proposal based on Census 2001 and were largely satisfied with the draft delimitation proposal.

The people and organizations from four Bodoland districts and three Autonomous Hill Council districts welcomed the proposal. However, there was a demand for further increase of Assembly seats in Dima Hasao, West Karbi Anglong and Karbi Anglong districts owing to the large hilly geographical area and the sparsely populated inhabitations. The people from Bodoland Territorial Area also demanded creation of one more ST Parliamentary seat for Udalguri and Baksa districts. If not, at least the name of Darang PC to be changed to Udalguri.

A few representations from Barak Valley welcomed de-reserving the Parliamentary Constituency of Karimganj. However, several representations from Barak Valley demanded that Assembly seats in the valley should be restored from 13 to 15.

While welcoming the draft proposal, many organizations requested for change of nomenclature of some Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies, highlighting the historical, cultural, political, and ethnic significance of the region such as Narsingpur AC to Dholai, Gobardhan AC to Manas, Darrang PC to Darrang-Udalguri, Batadraba AC to Dhing, Badarpur AC to Karimganj North, North Karimganj AC to Karimganj South, South Karimganj AC to Patharkandi, Ratabari AC to Ramkrishna Nagar, Moran AC to Khowang, Dima Hasao AC to Haflong, Hajo AC to Hajo-Sualkachi, Bhowanipur AC to Bhabanipur-Sorbhog, Chabua AC to Chabua-Lahowal and Algapur AC to Algapur-Katlichera.

A few organizations from the lower Assam, central Assam and Barak Valley districts also requested for maintaining the compactness, contiguity of the constituencies and keeping intact the administrative units as far as possible. Based on these parameters, they suggested for shifting of few villages/panchayats from one constituency to another. The maximum number of representations were of the nature of requesting shifting of one or two villages/panchayats from one constituency to another constituency.

Many persons from Sivasagar district submitted representations for restoration of Amguri AC in their district citing the historical and political significance of the place.

A few representations questioned the timing of the exercise, while others sought its deferment to permit a better understanding of the methodology being adopted.

Several representations focused on very specific village, block level concerns/requests based on geographical features, distances, remoteness, historicity etc.

In many cases where the representations brought to the notice of the Commission, some issues related to natural barriers like rivers, etc., the Commission gave on-the-spot directions to the respective District Magistrates seeking factual details with proper maps, so that a considerate view can be taken on the issues raised.

Many representations were purely aspirational and raised issues beyond the remit of the exercise.

While majority of representations had been received in writing and the groups were able to see the gist on the screen, the Commission permitted fresh groups to make their points.

United Opposition Forum Assam apprised the Commission that they had filed a petition in the Hon’ble Supreme Court challenging the draft delimitation proposal and the matter is listed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court for hearing on July 25, 2023.

The Commission has prepared detailed guidelines and methodology for the draft delimitation proposal keeping in view the constitutional and legal provisions, physical features, density of population, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and public convenience and suggestions received in the representations after the consultative exercise in March 2023.

During the public meetings held in last three days, the Commission patiently heard all the representations from different sections of society and organizations and assured due consideration of all the representations within the constitutional and statutory provisions.

CEC appreciated the ability of different groups to present their conflicting claims on various issues, with detailed reasons for their point of view, in a respectful and friendly manner, without creating confrontations or hostility. CEC Kumar added that this attitude is conducive to constructive dialogue and open-mindedness, allowing for a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives.


It may be recalled that the Commission visited Assam from 26.3.2023 to 28.03.2023 and held personal interactions with political parties, public representatives, civil societies, social organizations, members of public and officers of the Administration in the State including Chief Electoral Officer, Deputy Commissioners of all Districts of the State and District Election Officers regarding delimitation exercise in the State.  In total, representations from 11 Political Parties and 71 other organizations were received after the consultations were held in March 2023 and were considered.

Subsequently, the Commission had gone through all these representations, inter-alia covering the following the major suggestions:

Delimitation on the basis of 2001 census: Some groups were in favor and some against this. The change of demographic pattern of the State should be looked into during implementation of delimitation process. In some districts of Assam, the population growth is low while in some districts, it is abnormally high. Low population growth districts should not be put to disadvantage and number of seats in these districts should not be reduced.

At least variation of 25% should be allowed vis-à-vis the general norms, as required, to ensure that no social group feels alienated due to inadequate representation. This would also take care of diverse geographical features of Assam during the delimitation exercise.

The rights of indigenous people of Assam should be protected in the delimitation exercise.

Considering the lower demographic change in Upper Assam, seats in Upper Assam should not be decreased as those who are following the National Birth Policy should not suffer. The population pattern in lower Assam is higher for which the Commission should look into seriously.

In upper Assam, Dhemaji and Jonai AC seats should be reserved for ST. Simultaneously, there was a demand that all seats in Dhemaji district should not be kept reserved.

There should be one seat reserved for ST in Kamrup District. There was demand for new AC named Chamaria in Kamrup District. Dudhnoi AC seat should be reserved for ST in Goalpara District.

Number of ST seats in Bodoland should remain intact and Kokrajhar should be reserved for ST. The number of AC seats in Bodoland should be increased.

Number of ST seats should be increased in plain areas for benefit of plain tribes as their population has increased over the years.

Seats should be increased in West Karbi Anglong District as presently the district has only one seat.

There were suggestions based on local factors e.g., inclusion of certain areas in particular constituencies, compactness of certain areas in one AC, keeping interests of communities while carving out the seats.

Based on these suggestions and Constitutional and legal provision, the Election Commission of India published the draft proposal for delimitation of Assembly & Parliamentary Constituencies as provided for in Section 8A of the RP Act 1950. The draft proposal was also notified in the official Gazette of Central & State Government on June 20, 2023. Accordingly, the Commission had issued public notice for inviting the suggestions/objections to the draft proposal from the public before July 11, 2023.

The Commission received representations/suggestions from the political parties, civil society, social & other organizations, and the members of the public. Subsequently, the Election Commission notified the dates for public sittings to hear in person the organizations/members of public who had submitted their suggestions/objections through a public notice and fixed the dates from July 19-21, 2023 at Guwahati.

The Delimitation proposal seeks to retain the number of Lok Sabha seats at 14 and the number of Assembly seats at 126.  The Scheduled Tribes are proposed to be allocated 19 seats out of 126 seats in the State Assembly, and 2 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats. The Scheduled Castes are proposed to be allocated 09 seats in the Assembly, and One seat in the Lok Sabha. The last delimitation exercise in Assam was carried out in 1976.

Draft Delimitation Proposal: ECI Concludes 3-day Public Hearings, Over 6k Participated
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