Political equality in liberal democracies is not only about equality of opportunity to participate in the political decisions making process but also about carrying a vote value that is equal to the other member of the society.
According to a scholar Pamella S. Karlan, the right to vote can be diluted quantitatively and qualitatively by reducing the boundaries of the constituencies in the electoral system.
Quantitative dilution happens when votes receive unequal weight due to huge deviations in the population among the constituencies.
Qualitative dilution when a voter’s chance of electing a representative of their choice is reduced due to gerrymandering (reducing of boundaries to favour a candidate or party)
The limitation of constituencies plays a major role in strengthening or weakening of democracy.
Based on this government form an independent delimitation commission to avoid qualitative dilution.
Article 330 and 332 guarantee reservation of seats for SCs and STs which need to be kept in mind.
Delimitation of constituencies to be carried and regularly based on the decennial census to maintain equality of votes.
The government has constituted four delimitation commissions so far in 1952, 1962,1972 and 2002.
Dilution of vote value: The population of Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, MP, UP, Jharkhand has increased to more than 125% between measures. 1971 and 2011, whereas the population of Kerla, Tamil Nadu, Goa had increased by less than 100% due to strict population control measures. This also reveals a huge variation in the value of vote for people between the states.
For example, in UP a member of parliament on a average represents around 2.53 million people whereas in Tamil Nadu a MP represents on average around 1.84 million people a quantitative dilution.
Qualitative dilution of vote parity can be used as a tool to sideline or make insignificant votes of minorities. This happens in three ways.
- Cracking: where area dominated by the minorities are divided into different constituencies. An investigation shows that how Muslim majority block in Purnia in Bihar was divided across different constituencies in 2010 delimitation to reduce Muslim Influence.
- Stacking: where minority population is submerged with in the constituencies. The Sachar committee report gave a example of Mangalore where Muslim population was combined with large Hindu population across the assembly segment to submerge their voting power.
- Packing: where minorities are packed with in few constituencies and their strength is weakened everywhere else.
At present the share of Muslim MPs in parliament is only around 4.42% whereas Muslim population id 14.2%
At the same time the interest of southern states is to be protected as their representation in Parliament might be weakened due to more seats assigned to states with higher population growth.