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Delimitation issue

IFP Editorial: Fact is, Census figures of 2001 of Manipur was not complete. Census of Senapati district was not actually conducted but was based on estimated figures.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 8 Jan 2023, 8:06 pm

Imphal, Manipur (PHOTO: IFP)
Imphal, Manipur (PHOTO: IFP)

 

As the delimitation exercise started in Assam, questions have come up whether it is being used as a political weapon to shut out the minorities from the political space. Through the years, Delimitation Commissions have a constitutional mandate of its own. Yet, in many instances, what ultimately counts is whose voice is louder. Naturally, the ruling party has a big say in such matters. The Supreme Court has every right to question why delimitation is not happening in the Northeast states including Manipur for the last several years.

The delimitation exercise has been on the backburner for a few decades not only in the Northeast states but in Jammu & Kashmir also. However, after Jammu & Kashmir was downgraded into a Union Territory in recent times, the delimitation exercise was done in view of the ensuing elections. Meanwhile, some groups have moved the Supreme Court regarding non-execution of delimitation in NE.

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The Supreme Court recently said that the matter pertaining to conducting delimitation exercise in the four Northeastern states (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland) as per the Representation of People's Act, 1950 is one of "sensitive" nature. The Bench then asked the ECI counsel why the though the Northeastern states were removed from the notification for the Delimitation process.

There are many tribes there, so it's sensitive", the counsel appearing for the ECI said. The Election Commission of India (ECI) had in fact ordered delimitation in these states in the March 2020. However, a former legal advisor to the Election Commission and a well-known expert on delimitation SK Mendiratta red-flagged the Government of India’s order setting up a Delimitation Commission for four NE states including Manipur and Jammu & Kashmir calling it ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘illegal’ everyone thought it was over.

Mendiratta wrote a letter to the three election commissioners pointing out that the Law Ministry’s notification of March 6 violates the Representation of the People Act (RP Act) 1950 and Election Commission had referred the letter to the Law Ministry. States including Manipur had objected to the last delimitation exercise citing several reasons including doubtful Census figures. The state Chief Minister N Biren Singh had objected to a delimitation exercise based on ‘wrong’ Census figures and has called for delimitation on a fresh Census figure without controversy. The previous Congress regime had also objected to the delimitation exercise.

Taking exception to the proposed delimitation exercise in 2020, several civil society organisations have come up with a demand for setting up a State Population Commission to resolve the issue of abnormal population growths and for finding accurate Census data. They say, both 2001 and 2011 Census figures should not form the basis of the exercise. Now the question is, why certain sections are objecting to delimitation based on 2001 Census figures? Census operations of 2001 in Manipur was controversial and results are misleading with abnormal growth rates. The then Manipur government decided to order a fresh census after discussions with the team from the Union Home Ministry and the Registrar General of Census Operations.

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A fresh survey in 19 subdivisions of the hill and valley districts was ordered. When the enumerators went for re-survey, they were met with resistance from villagers. A group called Re-Census Protest Committee described the fresh survey as unconstitutional and unauthorised. The exercise was labelled as an attempt to deny the tribal people their rights. Some even tried to paint a communal bias to the objection saying that the valley people were concerned with losing some constituencies to the hills and thereby upsetting the power balance.

Fact is, Census figures of 2001 of Manipur was not complete. Census of Senapati district was not actually conducted but was based on estimated figures. The final figure of Census 2001 of Manipur was estimated at 22,93,896. This figure was not based on actual head count but on projected data. Another fact is that, there is mismatch between Census 2001 data and Electoral Roll 2020 prepared by the State Election Department.

EDITORIAL

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Tags:

northeastdelimitationdelimitation exerciseelectoral rollmanipur censusmanipur population census

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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