March 6, 2009


KOLKATA: Bengal CPI (M) secretary Biman Basu released at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan, late in the afternoon of 1 march a book on delimitation. The books deals with a brief history of delimitation in Bengal and delineates the changes that the recent amendments had wrought in the shape, size, and population pools of the different Assembly and Lok Sabha segments and units.

State committee member of the CPI (M) and an associate of the Delimitation Commission, Rabin Deb wrote and compiled the book. Biman Basu wrote the all-important political introduction to the 75-page, soft cover document published by the National Book Agency (NBA), and priced at Rs 20.

Introducing Rabin’s book while releasing it to the media, Biman Basu said that the effort merited equal importance with the Prannoy Roy-edited India Decides and Dilip Banerjee’s Election Recorder. Certainly, Rabin’s book is the first of its comprehensive kind for Bengal, and the data used has been brought up-to-date to mid-February of 2009. ‘I have not seen such a detailed work of this kind in the past,’ confessed Biman while praising the smart style of writing, analysis, and compilation of the material that had been marshalled with help from both NBA and the daily Ganashakti.

Te book dwells at some detail on how the 294 Assembly segments and the 42 Lok Sabha seats have been reconstituted by the Delimitation Commission chaired by Justice Kuldip Singh. Bima Basu pointed to the principal contents of the book, which looked like this:

Delimitation—an exercise after 33 years
Population based effects
Reserved seats and changes
The shape and size of the Bengal Assembly 1952-2006
Demographic and other features of each Assembly and Lok Sabha seat
Results of the 13th and 14th Lok Sabha polls
Gazette notifications of the Delimitation Commission and of the Election Commission
A multi-coloured map delineating the delimitation results

Biman Basu pointed to the acts of commission indulged in by the Bengal opposition, especially by the Trinamul Congress during the public hearings that the Commission organised at Siliguri, Durgapur, and in Kolkata. The then CEO as well as the chairman of the Delimitation Commission were physically heckled. Work of the Commission was hampered. Unprintable words were thrown at the members of the Commission who were dubbed as ‘stooges of Alimuddin Street,’ and yet the work could be completed thanks to the LF members of the Commission present, which backed the Commission’s work to the hilt.

Later, answering questions on the fact of the lessening of the population profile of Kolkata, that saw Kolkata lose one Lok Sabha seat of three, Biman Basu offered four tentative reasons:

Tenants often went to the suburbs in the houses/flats that they had built and/or purchased
Jobs took people and their families away from the metropolis
Dilapidated houses were sold off and families moved to the suburbia
Those working abroad, and originally khas Kolkatans, now preferred to return to pricey and luxurious flats/condominiums they have come to own in the high-rises that increasingly dot the outer reaches of the city.

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