Census Delay : A Farce in Full Swing

Census Delay : A Farce in Full Swing

As a sweltering Patna waits in desperation for some cooling showers, so do folks in civil society and social action long for the next national Census. That mundane yet essential national headcount. One might wonder why the 2021 Census has been delayed so long it’s starting to feel like waiting for Godot. The answer, dear readers, is both as simple and as sinister as a plot from a third-rate political thriller. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is dragging its feet on the Census because it’s playing a long game with the 2029 Lok Sabha elections in its crosshairs. Yes, you heard right.

The Constitution’s Convenient Clause

The cunning bit lies in the 84th amendment of our beloved Constitution, which states that the next round of electoral boundary-drawing – or “delimitation” for those who like fancy words – should be based on the first Census after 2026.

Now, if the Census happens in 2024 or 2025, the boundary fiddling will have to wait until the 2030s.

But if the BJP can delay the Census until 2026 or 2027, it can redraw the lines before the 2029 elections. The stakes? Shifting more Lok Sabha seats to northern states, where the BJP has a stronger foothold, at the expense of southern states. Clever, no? Or just plain dastardly, depending on your perspective.

Southern States: The Pawns in a Northern Game

Delimitation aims to balance the representation in the Lok Sabha so that each constituency has a similar population size, according to Article 81 of the Constitution. The catch? Fast-growing northern states like Uttar Pradesh will gain seats, while southern states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu will lose out.

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Naturally, this is a can of worms. Southern states might kick up a fuss – and rightly so. But if the BJP can pull this off, it strengthens its electoral prospects in the north, which is a critical battleground.

Welfare on Hold: The Real Victims

Meanwhile, as the BJP plots its grand scheme, millions of people are left in limbo. Census data isn’t just for the nerds at the statistics office; it’s crucial for welfare programs. For example, updated Census figures would expand the National Food Security Act, potentially benefiting over 100 million more people with subsidised food rations. Delaying the Census means depriving these people of essential entitlements, all for a bit of electoral gerrymandering.

Women’s Reservation: A Convenient Excuse

Enter the women’s reservation conundrum. The 106th amendment promises one-third of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies but only after delimitation based on the first Census post-2023. Some interpret this to mean that an early Census would delay women’s reservation by delaying delimitation. However, a closer reading suggests that women’s reservation could proceed independently of the larger delimitation exercise. So, there’s nothing stopping the opposition from pushing for an early Census and women’s reservation now, with the main delimitation happening later in the 2030s.

BJP’s Gains and Gambles

Let’s not kid ourselves – the BJP stands to gain from this political chess game. An internal reshuffle of Lok Sabha seats would give the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) a few extra percentage points in seat share, translating to about 15 additional seats. It’s a significant boost. But, and it’s a big but, there’s a risk of backlash in the southern states, which might see through this manipulation and react unfavourably.

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The Bigger Picture: Public Welfare Trumps Politics

Postponing the Census for political gain is not justifiable. It’s a tactic that holds millions of people hostage to electoral manoeuvres, obstructs women’s reservation, and deprives citizens of their fundamental rights. The opposition, if it has any sense of public duty left, should insist on a timely Census before 2026, ensuring the people get their due entitlements and that women’s reservation becomes a reality.

In the end, the BJP’s delaying tactics reveal a stark truth about the state of our democracy: national welfare is often sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. And as the 2029 elections approach, it’s a truth that should concern every voter.

One Response to "Census Delay : A Farce in Full Swing"

  1. Dorothy   June 19, 2024 at 8:15 am

    I somehow differ in this premise…it’s an open secret, the BJP had come to.power
    by dubious ways…well known to many Of us I’m Civil Society
    ….votes have been planted and EVM’s tampered…
    The naked Truth is the taste of power has left them numb and they can’t accept their defeat or graciously leave the seat to rightful, elected members