Delimitation means redrawing of boundaries of Parliament or state legislative assembly. The boundaries of Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha are drawn in such a way that each member of the Parliament represents an equal number of people living in that particular area. The same goes for the State Legislature as well. In short, the delimitation process is the redrawing of the constituencies’ borders to incorporate the growing population of the country.
What is the problem with the growing population? Population growth means that after a term in Parliament or state legislature, the same constituency has more people than the previous term. Also, the growth rate is not uniform all over the country. It is even negative in some places. Thus to maintain the same number of people represented every year in a particular constituent assembly, the number of seats in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha would be increased at the end of 10 years, or two consecutive terms.
Is this the case now in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha? The answer is no. The Delimitation Commission or Boundary Commission of India was formed to carry out the delimitation process precisely and efficiently. Upto mid-1970s, delimitation exercise was carried out every decade in 1953, 1963, and 1973. But after that, the seats of Lok Sabha are fixed. The population of India has seen a high growth rate since independence. Had the same principle been applied, the number of seats in Lok Sabha would have doubled by now. However, that is not so, as there has been a cap of 543 elected members in Lok Sabha since 1975.
What happened to delimitation in 2002? The new borders were drawn for the state assemblies of most states of India following the 2001 population census. However, a few states were barred from the delimitation as there were unrest and uprisings by insurgent groups. Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Jharkhand, and Jammu and Kashmir were some areas where delimitation was not carried out in 2002. Except for Jharkhand, the rest of the states will go for the delimitation process in 2020, which has already started in Jammu and Kashmir, which is now a Union Territory.
The delimitation of Lok Sabha seats did not happen in 2002, it was further postponed to 2026 as there was no space for additional members in the Parliament. Politicians argue that this is not the correct time for delimitation as it could have been done just 6 years later, in 2026, following a new census. Moreover, the pandemic situation due to Covid-19 has affected the country extensively and downgraded its economy. Many economists and political strategists argue that the Government should spend more money and address more issues related to the public’s well-being, instead of wasting crores of rupees in delimitation and making a new Parliament house to accommodate the increased number of Lok Sabha seats. Despite oxygen shortage in the country, irregularities in vaccination, and lack of isolation wards, the Government has complete focus on early elections, early delimitation, and construction of a new Parliament, the Central Vista, the essential needs of the hour.
However, it is also true that the country has significantly progressed in inventing and producing Covid-19 tests and vaccines. The second wave is nearing its end in the country. The Government has also seen substantial growth in GDP in the first quarter of 2021, and it is projected to increase further. It is time to start new ideas to develop the country that has been crippled due to the pandemic.
Written by – Himadri Paul