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Delimitation exercise in Goa
has opposition worried
Sandesh Prabhudesai in Panaji | March 06, 2003 19:45 IST
The fresh delimitation of assembly constituencies in Goa has raised a furore as it may benefit the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party while severely affecting the opposition Congress, which had ruled the coastal state for 15 years.
This is the second time a delimitation exercise is being undertaken in Goa after it was granted statehood in 1987. At the end of the first one, held in 1988 based on the 1981 census figures, the number of assembly segments was increased from 30 to 40.
The exercise is believed to have benefited the Congress as most of the minority-dominated segments were bunched together.
In the last election, the Congress secured 16 seats against 17 of the BJP in spite of being a divided house and people being fed up with the frequent defections and realignments in the party over the last decade.
However, all this may change.
A draft prepared by the delimitation commission, which got leaked on Tuesday, suggests formation of five new assembly segments, while wiping out four existing ones.
Instead of the 21:19 ratio of assembly segments in Panaji (north Goa) and Mormugao (south Goa) parliamentary constituencies, the commission proposes that each segment have 20 assembly seats.
As per the new formula, Mayem in north Goa and Priol, Curchorem and Poinguinim in the south would be replaced by Penha da France, Sanquelim, Se Old Goa and Tivim-Aldona in the north and Vaddem in the port town of Vasco in the south.
Also almost 36 segments may be reconstituted in a manner that could benefit the BJP if the Congress continues to rely on the minority vote.
"If the new proposals are implemented, the BJP can come to power without the help of smaller parties," says former Congress chief minister Luizinho Faleiro who suspects a hidden agenda behind reconstitution exercise.
At present, the BJP is in power with the support of the Hindu-dominated Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the Christian-dominated United Goans Democratic Party.
Faleiro has strongly objected to the assembly speaker appointing four BJP legislators but only one of the Congress as associate members of the three-member commission, besides the two BJP MPs from the state.
"We are not connected with the delimitation process," asserts Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Faleiro's objections and other such issue may be taken up at the next meeting of the delimitation panel, scheduled for March 12, when the associate members will meet the commission for the first time.
This meeting would be followed by public hearings, only after which the commission will finalise its recommendations.
The reconstitution exercise has been undertaken to the tremendous increase in the population, from about one million (10.07 lakh) in '81 to 1.17 million (11.70 lakh) in '91, election commission sources said.
Justice Kuldeep Singh is heading the delimitation commission in the state.
More reports from Goa