EC for permanent fixation of parliamentary constituencies in mega cities

17 Jul 2017, 20:11 | updated: 17 Jul 2017, 23:18

NTV Online

The Election Commission wants to fix the number of parliamentary constituencies in mega cities, including capital Dhaka, permanently.

‘It’s essential to fix number of constituencies in mega cities like the capital,’ the EC said it its roadmap for the next national election, which was unveiled on Sunday, reports the UNB.

Arguing for fixation of the number of constituencies in the mega cities, the EC in its roadmap said the population census counts the present location, not the permanent address of every citizen.

‘Many people live in mega cities due to their professional works, but they remain registered as voters in their own areas (permanent addresses). Besides, many others live and remain voters in urban areas, but they’ve engagement in their rural (ancestral) areas,’ it added.

‘So, it’s essential to reform the legal structure to re-demarcate the parliamentary constituencies, if the issues are considered,’ the EC said.

Now there are 15 constituencies in Dhaka city while 20 in Dhaka district.

As per the roadmap, the EC also wants to consider the number of voters and the size of area alongside the existing three issues — the size of population, geographical integrity and administrative convenience - while redrawing the country’s 300 parliamentary constituencies.

The EC has already started its move to amend the Delimitation of Constituencies Ordinance, 1976 for incorporating the two issues — the number of voters and the size of area - in it.

The existing section 6 (2) of the Delimitation of Constituencies Ordinance states, ‘The Constituencies shall be so delimited, having regard to administrative convenience that each constituency is a compact area and in doing so due regard shall be had, as far as practicable, to the distribution of population as given in the latest census report.’

The Election Commission earlier formed a committee, headed by election commissioner Kabita Khanam, to reform electoral laws ahead of the 11th national election, likely to be held in late December 2018.

The committee sat in a meeting on Thursday last (July 13) to discuss drafting of an amendment to the Delimitation of Constituencies Ordinance.

The participants of the meeting said the number of constituencies in Dhaka and Chittagong cities should be limited and fixed to prevent reduction in the number of parliamentary seats in rural areas, EC officials said.

They also said the number of voters and the size of area should be incorporated in the ordinance alongside the existing three issues.

They said the EC needs to enact a rule under the Ordinance.

The EC in its roadmap says, ‘It may consider not only the size of population but also the number of voters and size of areas.’

On June 20 last, Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda said the EC is mulling whether the constituencies can be re-demarcated on the basis of the voter size instead of the population one.

If the delimitation of constituencies is redrawn on the basis of population, the discrimination among the constituencies will increase, he said.

The previous commission, headed by Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, redrew the boundaries of 87 constituencies out of 300 across the country in 2013 ahead of the 10th parliamentary elections.

In case of delimitation of some constituencies, the then EC did not care enough to keep intact administrative units and compactness of area, and to consider the population gap with other constituencies, which created resentment among the people of the constituencies concerned.

The ATM Shamsul Huda Commission brought massive changes to some 133 constituencies prioritising the population size in 2008. It increased the number of Dhaka district to 20 from 15 and that of Chittagong district to 16 from 14 ahead of the 9th national election.

But the same Commission in 2011 proposed the government to amend the law for fixing the number of constituencies in Dhaka and Chittagong cities permanently.