At the inaugural edition of the South First’s Dakshin Dialogues — a thought platform for political, legal, and civil-society voices from South India — the Congress’ Member of Parliament from Kerala Shashi Tharoor, Telangana IT Minister KT Rama Rao, and Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy expressed serious concerns about the lapsing of the 91st Amendment of the Constitution in 2026.
According to the amendment, the number of MPs per state in the Lok Sabha was fixed based on the 1971 census, a figure that has been frozen for the last 45 years.
This arrangement will be rethought when it lapses in 2026, posing a serious threat to representation from the southern states, which have managed to effectively implement population control measures over the years.
What if South can’t prevent amendment?
The issue was first taken by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor during the panel discussion.
“There is going to be a serious disenfranchisement of the southern states. It is only four years away, and I think it is time we start thinking about it,” he said.
Explaining the dangers of such a scenario, Tharoor wondered how the South would prevent a Constitutional amendment after 2026 that may not be in their interest, especially when political representatives from the northern states with a two-thirds majority would have their way in the Lok Sabha.
He said: “What happens in a situation where a particularly strong majoritarian party in power at the Centre, which has a Hindi-Hindustan-Hindutva agenda? How will the South be able to prevent a Constitutional amendment if, after 2026, the political representatives of the Northern states with a two-thirds majority want to declare Hindi as the national language, which many have tried to do, but were prevented from.”
Tharoor, during the panel discussion, also drew attention to the construction of the new Parliament building, initiated by the BJP-led Union government, which could seat over 800 MPs.
“Are we going to find our Parliament being converted into the equivalent of the Chinese People’s Consultative Chamber where Xi Jinping comes and makes his declamations and the people there ritually beat the tables, and that’s about it in terms of meaningful debate?” he asked.
In concluding his remarks, Tharoor stated that the southern states were going to find out that one of the rewards for their good economic performance, low levels of fertility, women empowerment, women education, and thereby lower population was going to be the loss of political power in the Union.
‘South needs to get its act together’
Concurring with the views expressed by Tharoor, KTR suggested that the Southern states have to “collectively start campaigning, meet more often and actually start making the case”.
“Between the five southern states, we have about 130 Lok Sabha seats. But if that is going to be reduced by a large number, where a performer is penalised and a non-performer is incentivised, it would be a travesty in all forms,” the Telangana IT minister remarked.
He added: “Back in the 1980s, when family planning was a big deal, the South performed much, much better than the northern part of India. You cannot penalise us; you cannot stifle our voices by cutting the number of seats.”
Urging the southern states — cutting across political parties — to come together to fight any attempt to reduce the representation given to them in Parliament, KTR proposed that he would request Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao to take it up in the Southern Regional Council.
‘Representation is non-negotiable’
Pitching in, Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy said when the time comes, everyone would have to get together and not let anything happen where the states’ existence would be under question.
“When it comes to the relevance and existence of various states in this country and in Parliament, it is non-negotiable,” he said.
There is no way that anyone is going to negotiate or give in. Various states in the country have been formed on a linguistic basis. There is no way that a Kerala or an Andhra Pradesh or Tamil Nadu or Karnataka or Odisha or Bengal or Maharashtra or Gujarat will compromise their position when it comes to the number of seats or actual political presence,” Reddy added.