Neena Vyas

All-party meet wants work completed in time

  • The exercise may lead to an increase of 6 seats each for SCs, STs
  • Women's quota issue not to be linked to exercise

    NEW DELHI: An all-party meeting here on Friday agreed that the Delimitation Commission should continue its work and speedily complete it before the 2009 Lok Sabha election.

    With no certainty about when and in what shape Parliament will adopt the women's reservation Bill, the view was to delink the issue from the exercise.

    Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told journalists: "By and large the consensus at the meeting was that the Commission should continue its work and complete it on time."

    The exercise is expected to lead to an increase of six reserved seats each for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. The Latur Lok Sabha seat, once held by Shivraj Patil, could become a reserved seat, as also the Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's Bolpur seat.

    A background paper circulated ahead of the meeting mentioned women's reservation, the need for balancing the urban and rural seats, increase in seats for the northeast and reserved seats for the SCs and STs.

    Apparently, neither Mr. Mukherjee nor Congress representative at the meeting Oscar Fernandes pressed for stopping the delimitation exercise or increasing seats to accommodate reserved seats for women. Mr. Fernandes said his party would go by the consensus.

    Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury told The Hindu : "We do not think the Lok Sabha seats should be increased in the name of women's reservation. If that were to be done, the work of the Delimitation Commission cannot be completed in time for the 2009 Lok Sabha election."

    The Commission had issued notifications in respect of delimitation in 12 States and it was ready to do so in six more States.

    Mr.Yechury said that in another 20 years more people would be living in urban areas than in rural areas. This reality could not be ignored.

    The Trinamool Congress, which fears a decrease in Kolkata seats, said there was no consensus on the issue of delimitation.

    Telugu Desam Party leader Yerran Naidu spoke in favour of continuing the delimitation exercise and its completion in time.

    Long overdue: BJP

    Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley said the delimitation exercise was long overdue and it should not be derailed. The huge demographic changes in the country since the last delimitation exercise in the 70s needed to be reflected.

    On the women's reservation issue, he said that only one option, increasing the Lok Sabha seats, would need a fresh delimitation exercise.

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