Election 2023, Delimitation 2026

Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in population. The main objective of delimitation is to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population. The population does not grow uniformly across all areas of a state. Hence, delimitation of constituencies is periodically carried out to reflect not only an increase in population but changes in its distribution. Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission, appointed by the Government of India under provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act. The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India. The Constitution mandates that the Commission’s orders are final and cannot be questioned before any court as it would hold up an election indefinitely. The Commission is supposed to determine the number and boundaries of constituencies in a way that the population of all seats, so far as practicable, is the same. Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times – 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002. There was no delimitation after the 1981, 1991 and 2001 Censuses. The last delimitation exercise that changed the state-wise composition of the Lok Sabha was completed in 1976 and done on the basis of the 1971 census. Later, delimitation based on the 2001 census was done in 2008. However, the total number of seats in the Assemblies and Parliament decided as per the 1971 Census was not changed. The Constitution was amended during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule in 1976 to suspend delimitation until 2001. The 84th Amendment Act, 2001 postponed this until 2026. This was justified on the ground that a uniform population growth rate would be achieved throughout the country by 2026. The 2002 Act did not make any changes in total Lok Sabha seats or their apportionment between various states. It also left out a few states including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur from the exercise due to “security risks.” The North East Students’ Forum on Delimitation (NESFOD) has been demanding delimitation in the four NE states and has even moved the Supreme Court. The central government reconstituted the Delimitation Commission for these four states as well as the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on 6 March 2020. However, there is opposition to implementing the delimitation based on the 2001 census. In 2008, the government deferred delimitation in Nagaland based on the primary justification that given the “peculiar tribal configuration…the delimitation exercise carried out on the basis of the 2001 census will have the potential for disrupting the tribal equilibrium and peace and public order.” It added that delimitation was “likely to arouse the sentiments of the tribal people… due to their apprehensions that new delimitation in many electoral constituencies may disturb the delicate existing tribal equilibrium and change of boundaries may cause alienation.” Some observers opine that the 2023 assembly elections in Nagaland will be the last election in the current arrangement of assembly constituencies and that the next general elections would be held after the delimitation post 2026. There are also speculations that the number of assembly constituency and parliamentary seats in Nagaland would be increased once the Naga political issue is resolved. As such, there is apprehension among observers that the government of the day during the post-2026 delimitation exercise would hold sway to influence it.

17 thoughts on “Election 2023, Delimitation 2026”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *