Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has written to Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to reconsider the strength in Jharkhand assembly based on the State population so that it is in line with the strength in other states with comparable population.
Jharkhand’s — which has a population of 33 million according to the 2001 census — assembly has 81 seats with one additional member who is nominated. In his letter dated December 18, Mr. Ramesh compared the situation in Jharkhand to States such as Kerala which has a population of 33.4 million, and Assam which has a population of 31.2 million. Both States have a much higher number of seats in the Vidhan Sabha — 141 and 126 respectively. The letter includes the data for States such as Punjab, Haryana, Chhattisgarh which have population between 27.7 and 25.5 million, lower than that of Jharkhand, but still have larger assembly strengths at 117 and 90 each seats.
"Even when you take the 1971 census there appears to be under-representation for Jharkhand. I would request you to have this issue examined and ensure the people of Jharkhand have a Vidhan Sabha strength reflective of population and that will enhance political stability," wrote Mr. Ramesh, referring to data from the 1971 census which shows that States such as Assam have had 126 assembly seats even with a population of 14.6 million — similar to Jharkhand's then population.
Mr. Ramesh was named the head of the state coordination committee for Jharkhand by Congress president Sonia Gandhi earlier this week.
The committee meant to improve coordination between Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Rashtriya Janta Dal — that are in coalition in the government headed by Hemant Soren of JMM — has been opposed by seven Independent MLAs who were special invitees in the committee.