Delimitation Paranoia

The Delimitation process currently underway for readjusting assembly constituencies in Nagaland is turning out to be a political hot potato with virtually everyone getting into the bandwagon of protest—some for it and some against the move. This clearly reflects the lack of consensus on the issue and still worse, there is so much confusion in the air that the logical issue of delimitation is being turned on its head to suit the interest of a few powerful politicians. While no one will doubt that the exercise of delimitation is an arduous and complicated process, the manner in which the process is being attempted to be accomplished has only led to an explosive reaction especially by those who are opposing change. The major point of complaint being voiced through the media is that the public at large have not been taken into confidence. One will have to agree on this contention. It is therefore not surprising to see people expressing their views in such a knee jerk manner.  

Coming back to the issue itself, it appears that the direction that Nagaland is headed for is not so much a complete Delimitation exercise but only partial readjustment of constituencies. This is another confusion that needs to be clarified by the concerned authorities. It may be mentioned that the Delimitation Commission, constituted under the Delimitation Act 2002 has drawn up comprehensive guidelines and laid down detailed methodologies in respect to its working. And as per guidelines, a Working paper-1 was drawn up indicating the need to transfer seats from one district to another on the basis of the Census 2001 population figures. A majority of the public response and reaction is centered on the readjustment of constituencies and not so much on redistribution of seats district wise. The Chief Minister himself should clarify and give necessary information to the public on what has transpired over the last few months on the question of delimitation and where the process is headed towards.

From whatever little information is available with this newspaper, it appears that despite the strong justification given by the government to exempt Nagaland from the Delimitation exercise, this however does not find concurrence of the Delimitation Commission, which itself is not competent to exempt any State from the exercise. Whether it is limited readjustment among the constituencies within districts or redistribution of seats district wise based on the 2001 population census, hopefully the concerned authorities will abide by the clarification given by the Nagaland Commissioner, which is that the public will be taken into confidence although it is also surprising to note that no wide publicity has yet been given through local newspapers on the draft proposals as was supposed to have been. Any final order taken on delimitation must have the imprint of public support. While it may not be possible to satisfy everyone, however the widest possible consultations must be undertaken to dispel fear and apprehensions in the minds of people and also to educate them on delimitation per-se, which should be seen as an ongoing democratic process of enhancing people’s representation in a fair and equitable manner.