'EC doesn't take dictation from anybody': Poll body on Congress' match-fixing allegation on Assam delimitation
Guwahati: The Election Commission has strongly rejected the Congress party’s allegation that the delimitation process in Assam is a "pre-determined move" and is a “match-fixing” between EC and BJP, media reports said.
Reacting to the accusation, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said at a press conference in Guwahati said that the “EC does not take dictation from anybody. As a commission, our process depends on two foundations - disclosure and participation," reported NDTV.
“Every community across the state will be considered fairly, within the legal framework, and adhering to principles of equity,” he added.
The EC’s response came a day after Congress skipped a meeting with the poll body to discuss delimitation in Assam.
Assam Congress chief Bhupen Borah said that the Congress’s Assam unit has submitted a memorandum to the EC in New Delhi, raising several doubts about the redrawing of district boundaries, according to the report.
However, the EC is yet to give a reply on those issues, Borah said, adding that the party is “ready to meet and discuss with the EC but first, we need to get a reply to our queries.”
CEC Shri Rajiv Kumar along with ECs Shri Anup Chandra Pandey & Shri Arun Goel reached #Guwahati on a 3 day visit in relation to #delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the State of #Assam pic.twitter.com/U0kzEiGr35— Election Commission of India #SVEEP (@ECISVEEP) March 26, 2023
"Now they are only giving 10–15 minutes, and we don't think meeting them will be of any use," Congress MLA and Assam Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia said yesterday, the report said.
"We see that EC has a pre-determined motive behind this process. We get a feeling that there is a match-fixing between the EC and BJP, since December 27, the EC made a press note on delimitation in Assam and on December 30, the Assam cabinet passed a resolution to merge four districts, altering district boundaries in the state. And on January 1 this year, the EC issued the notification. What does this mean?" Borah was quoted as saying by NDTV.
During their closed-door meetings with the Election Commission (EC), the AIUDF and Trinamool Congress, the other opposition parties, have expressed concerns about various aspects of the process, including the Assam National Register of Citizens (NRC), the timing of the delimitation exercise before the 2024 general election, and fears that the boundaries of constituencies with a Muslim majority may be altered.
The Chief Election Commissioner is currently in Guwahati for a period of three days, during which they will be holding consultations with various stakeholders, including political parties and civil societies, regarding the delimitation process in Assam.
The process of delimitation, which involves the redrawing of territorial boundaries for assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Assam based on the 2001 census, had been stalled for a period of 14 years. The previous delimitation exercise in Assam was conducted in 1976.
The commission also met 60 civil society organisations from different parts of Assam and senior officials of district administration from all Assam districts, the Chief Election Commissioner said.
The primary recommendations put forth included utilising the recent census data (from 2021, rather than 2001), expanding the number of assembly and parliamentary segments, increasing the representation of SC and ST communities, and ensuring proportionate delimitation even in regions with a smaller population.
Some groups also suggested taking into account the uneven population growth in Assam.
Rajiv Kumar said there will be no change in the assembly and Lok Sabha seats despite the delimitation process.
He said the poll body took up the delimitation process duty after the ministry of law wrote to EC, adding that the delimitation process in Assam was taken up in 2002 but was put on hold.
The Election Commission will entertain suggestions till April 15 for anyone and after that the draft will be published. Another one month will be allowed for suggestion on the draft, he added.
The CEC also pointed out that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the delimitation process are two separate issues and there is no legal binding to carry out the two processes parallelly.
"The delimitation process is not timing driven. There is support from all to complete the delimitation process quickly," Rajiv Kumar was quoted as saying in the report.