‘Scheduled Caste voters deserve a separate slot’
Time has come to revive the demand, says Thorat
The demand for separate electorates for voters belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should be revived by respective organisations in their quest for power, former UGC Chairman and managing trustee of the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies Sukhdeo Thorat said here on Monday.
“Separate electorates for the SCs should be made part of a study on electoral reforms and organisations should take it up if they want to empower their leaders.” Leaders who are getting elected in reserved constituencies end up as puppets in the hands of powerful political parties, said Dr. Thorat in his address at the Dalit Assembly organised by the Dalit Bahujan Front.
He was echoing a historic movement led by B.R Ambedkar who had the British government conceding the demand for separate electorates in reserved constituencies, until a fast by Mahatma Gandhi ended all possibilities and resulted in the signing of the Poona Pact in September 1932.
Dr. Thorat said that a large number of SCs in Andhra Pradesh continue to languish in poverty and the rapid privatisation of education, lack of employment opportunities in the public sector and commodification of land was denying them their basic rights.
Quoting from the National Sample Survey (2011), Dr. Thorat said 60 % of SCs in AP were farm labourers and mere 20 % own farms. The community should demand land and if necessary, the State government should purchase land and distribute it.
“The reservation policy is being eroded by the private sector. More than 70 % people in AP are employed in the private sector. A whopping 55 % jobs in the government are now being filled on contract basis, which is against the letter and spirit of the reservation policy. SCs should demand reservation in education and employment in the private sector,’’ said Dr. Thorat.
Former IAS officer T. Gopala Rao said that SC organisations should forge an united front and fight elections.
All India Congress Cell SC,ST national convener S. Prasad said that awareness on the Prevention of Atrocities (SC,ST) Act, 1989, should be increased to provide more security for SCs facing oppression.
Dalit Bahujan Front founder Korivi Vinay Kumar, national convener Mella Bhagya Rao, and former MLA Lingamsetty Eswara Rao were among those present on the occasion.
Source : The Hindu, Sept 11, 2018