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Will delimitation play any role in Assam's political landscape this Lok Sabha election?

22 Apr,2024 05:58 PM, by: Super Admin
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In 2019, Rupon Sarkar of Hojai voted in the Nagaon constituency, but due to delimitation—which adjusts electoral boundaries based on population changes—he now finds himself voting in the Kaziranga constituency this Lok Sabha election.

The delimitation process, announced by the Election Commission on December 27, 2022, marked a significant step in redefining Assam's electoral geography. The exercise was carried out based on the 2001 Census data, a move deferred for years for various reasons, including the ongoing updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The last time such an exercise took place in Assam was in 1976. The decision to proceed with the delimitation met with mixed reactions, with political parties expressing divergent views. This order leads to the creation of new constituencies, the merging of existing ones, or the realignment of boundaries to better reflect demographic realities.

For example, the reorganization of the Nagaon parliamentary constituency, which now includes three assembly segments from the former Kaliabor seat, has tipped the balance of power, notably affecting minority voter representation.

Political analysts note that the Hindu-Muslim electorate ratio in Nagaon was 60:40 in 2019. However, post-delimitation, Muslims now constitute 51% of the voters in the NagaonLok Sabha seat, while Hindus make up 49%.In the 2019 election, despite the religious demographics not favoring Congress in the NagaonLok Sabha seat, sitting MP PradyutBordoloi managed to defeat BJP's Rupak Sharma. However, this time around, the changed constituency boundaries due to delimitation could bring a different electoral dynamic.

When Gaurav Gogoi was introduced to politics, he was nominated by the Congress party from Koliabor in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Gogoi won the 2014 and 2019 general elections despite a strong BJP wave in Assam.

After the delimitation, the Kaliabor seat is now dissolved, giving way to the creation of the new Kaziranga constituency. Areas with a substantial Muslim population, such as Ruaparihat, Samaguri, and Dhing, were removed from the KaliaborLok Sabha seat, while Hindu-majority areas were incorporated.

The changed dynamics of this Lok Sabha constituency have forced Gaurav Gogoi to change his seat, and he contested from Jorhat this time.

In 2019, Congress won three Lok Sabha seats in Assam -- Kaliabor, Nagaon, and Barpeta. However, the voter pattern of the BarpetaLok Sabha seat was changed to a large extent in the delimitation exercise. A seat that was always dominated by the Muslim population, now Hindu votes will also play a major role in deciding the candidate's fortune. Abdul Khaleque, the incumbent Congress MP, refused to fight from the BarpetaLok Sabha seat this time and insisted on a ticket from the DhubriLok Sabha seat. With the change in constituency boundaries, these MPs might face challenges in getting re-elected in the new constituencies due to unfamiliarity among voters or competition from local leaders.

Following the delimitation of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly constituencies in Assam, the total number of polling stations has increased to 28,645 from the previous 28,205, marking a rise of 440 stations. Mankachar Legislative Assembly Constituency (LAC) now has the highest number of polling stations in the state at 347, while Dotma LAC has the fewest with 142.

After the Election Commission's delimitation exercise, the Kamrup (Metro) district now has 5 Legislative Assembly Constituencies (LACs), up from the previous 4.The number of polling stations in the 5 LACs of Kamrup (M) district has also changed and now stands at 1023. 

The delimitation process in Assam has indeed reshaped the state's political landscape. While it seeks to ensure fair representation, questions about its timing and feasibility have emerged. The unfamiliarity of voters with the new boundaries could influence the prospects of some candidates. Yet, given the current political climate, the delimitation might not significantly sway the overall election results.



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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