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Mains Answer Writing

11-october-2023

1. ‘Delimitation of seats is essential to ensure fair representation and uphold the principles of one vote, one value’. Highlighting the challenges posed by misrepresentation in constituencies analyze the ramifications of population-based delimitation in creating federal tension.

ANSWER:

Delimitation is the process of setting geographical constituency boundaries in a nation to account for population changes. According to the Delimitation Commission Act and Articles 82 and 170 of the Indian Constitution, the Union government establishes the Delimitation Commission following each census. The major goal is to uphold the “One Vote, One Value” principle and maintain a fair distribution of geographic areas to prevent any political party from having an electoral advantage.

CHALLENGES FACED DUE TO MISREPRESENTATION IN CONSTITUENCIES

  1. Reduce Representativeness: The misrepresentation of constituencies can lead to reduced representativeness and disenfranchisement of a particular area, or region while overrepresentation of some other region.
  2. Regional Disparity: Misrepresentation of constituencies can lead to regional disparity as the region not well represented will suffer from political and administrative apathy.
  3. Disturb Peace and Harmony: Nonequality in representativeness can lead to feelings of enmity and injustice among people of different regions, areas which can create challenges for peace and harmony in the area.
  4. Disbalance Federation: Misrepresentation can lead to disturbing the federal fabric of the country due to a lack of effective representation from all areas.
  5. Influence Free and Fair Election: Misrepresentation in constituencies can violate the basic purpose of the delimitation exercise i.e. to ensure no party can unduly influence the election process.

CHALLENGES POSED BY POPULATION-BASED DELIMITATION

India has created a decadal mechanism of delimitation based on the population of States. However, the 84th Constitutional Amendment, 2002 has limited the inter-State delimitation till 2024 in order to freeze the readjustment of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats. However, the delimitation process based on population has several ramifications in creating federal tensions:

  1. Penalisation of States: States with low populations come out as disadvantageous compared to large population states giving them more political clout.
  2. Central-State Disputes: States with larger populations figure out high in the political priority of the central government and hence give rise to various disputes between the Center and States.
  3. Rise of Regional Tendencies: The lack of effective representation due to less population in certain regions, states develops regional tendencies fueling mutual distrust leading to separatist tendencies. For e.g., Bodoland Separatist Movement.
  4. Regional Disparity: The lack of equitable representation due to low population can also lead to regional disparity in development. States with high populations corner more resources for development thereby disturbing both the vertical and horizontal federal axis.
  5. Penalties for Population Control: States that have controlled population growth fear losing out on the number of Lok Sabha seats & also on the value of its votes in the Presidential election while the ones that did not control stand to benefit.
  6. The Fifteenth Finance Commission: The main point of opposition to the recommendations and terms of reference of the Commission was that it is biased towards the States with higher populations. This is also a point of contention in the Southern States while the delimitation process and terms are discussed.

In recent times, there have been calls for the revival of the decadal revision of constituencies and with the inauguration of the new Parliament building, it is imminent that there will be a delimitation after the 2021 census results are out. However, there are certain contentions with respect to the term of reference and procedure to be followed.

Therefore in order to have an all-inclusive political participation and a smooth transition to a larger Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, there needs to be a deliberative, inclusive and properly discussed Delimitation process in place.

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