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Views & Reviews

Delimitation Exercise, a Must in Nagaland

By EMN Updated: Mar 10, 2020 1:07 am

Delimitation exercise is an intrinsic feature and need of any parliamentary democracy of which India is one and Nagaland is part and parcel of it. The purpose of delimitation is to bring about the proportionate representation of the people to the parliament or the state assemblies. This exercise is supposed to be held every decade but for reasons best known to the centre, this was not followed. Contrary to this simple democratic exercise, at the notification of the last  Delimitation Act 2002, Nagaland government came out with a sly excuse of blaming law and order situation of the state as well as the on-going peace process as the reasons for its inability to hold the exercise. Being silly it would not have any impact in withholding the exercise except for the PIL filed against the 2001 census on which the delimitation exercise was based.

Divergent to Nagaland government’s contention of law and order situation and other lame excuses for opposing the holding of delimitation exercise in the state, it is known to every sensible Naga that the delimitation exercises of 1964 and 1972 were held amidst the height of Naga political unrest and that too smoothly. Nagas may not forget these events but what some Nagas have come to be is so fantastic that as long as a law or a rule benefits them for pursuing their selfish programmes they say the rule is good but the moment it reprimands their faulty actions and questions their honesty they say it is a bad law or a bad rule. Worse still these same people talk tough on democracy but when an issue like delimitation comes up they cook up all possible irresponsible reasons to thwart its implementation. Below is one such.

Nagaland Assembly in 2004 moved a bill in objection to the Delimitation Act 2002saying that if delimitation was held in the State it “will affect tribal cohesion, alter customary territorial boundaries and intercede with the rights to the conservation of tribal habitats…. The delimitation exercise ….is bound to upset the social, cultural and ethnic poise amongst the various tribes in Nagaland… when the peace talks for resolving the Naga political issue are at a crucial stage.” I don’t know who has advised the government with such a wonderful idea because this bill is not only the height of insanity but also an insult to the people of the State and a disgrace to the Honourable Nagaland Assembly. I hope this Government is sensible enough not to pass this kind of Bill again.

In contravention to the contention of the Bill, the primary purpose of delimitation is to balance any existing disparities among the constituencies and among the districts created over the years through diverse growth in population. If as contented in the Bill that, an exercise of a delimitation “will affect tribal cohesion, alter customary territorial boundaries and intercede with the rights to the conservation of tribal habitats” etc. then why the delimitations held in 1964 and 1972 didn’t affect us as contented by the then ruling dispensation. What a contention! The existing disequilibrium among the districts in regard to the share of constituencies must be rectified urgently to bring about proportionate representation in the assembly by effecting the present notified delimitation in the true spirit of democracy.

Another fact is that delimitation exercise has nothing to do with the on-going peace process. Don’t play politics with delimitation because if the politicians are serious with the Naga issue then there are various other ways to contribute to it but not by making delimitation a scapegoat for the reason that there will be further delimitations now or after a political settlement as long as Nagaland is in a parliamentary democracy and the final Naga political settlement, when it happens, is not going to bring in any other form of governance other than democracy. 

One of the clearest tribal imbalances today is in the distribution of LAD Fund and various other developmental schemes that are based on population or voters. For instance, LADF amounting to Rs. 1(one) crore each is sanctioned for every constituency.  As per record, we have a constituency in Mokokchung and in Zunheboto Districts who have only 7129 voters and 9981 voters respectively electing an MLA each while Ghaspani-1 in Dimapur alone has 65,643 voters electing one MLA. These constituencies get the same amount which definitely is an obvious imbalance of developmental fund allocation. Divided by 7129 voters, Ghaspani-1 A/c should have nine Assembly constituencies.

Jonas Yanthan

By EMN Updated: Mar 10, 2020 1:07:59 am