Prof. Kali Dass
India got freedom on 15th August 1947 & attained its democratic character on 26th January 1950, by way of adopting Constitution based on socialist character. A vast majority of this country remained deprived of access to education, governance and economic shares and to provide justice to them their representation was warranted in every sphere of life and hence SC/ST’s were provided political representation in the constitution of India by virtue of Article 243D &T for Panchayat & UBL’s; 330 & 334 for parliament & assemblies. So every parliamentary elections elects about 120-125 SC/ST MP’s for Lok Sabha and similarly in every state according to population their assembly seats are reserved. Unfortunately SC/ST politicians sitting in Congress, BJP, Left or any other political parties neither get due representation in party working committees nor in State or Central ministries. SC/ST MP/MLA’s are relegated to very low positions in political system in each & every political party; ironically none of them raise a voice. Similar is the situation with OBC representation in political system.
SC/ST’s and OBC’s blindly voted for Modi & team in Parliamentary elections as well as J&K state elections & BJP came into power in 2014 at the centre and it formed coalition government with PDP in J&K that lasted for about 11 months before Mufti Mohd Sayeed’s death. The Mufti Cabinet had only one SC Minister (BJP Quota) in spite of the fact that total share of SC MLAs in BJPs tally stood at 1/3rd total strength of BJP MLAs in present assembly). PDP could not oblige SCs as there was no SC MLA from PDP. The actual strength should have been 03 Cabinet Ministers & 01 MOS from amongst SC MLAs. As far as OBCs are concerned, they had been totally ignored by JK government as far as their political representation is concerned. After Mufti sahib’s death, Ms. Mehabooba Mufti took over the reins of coalition government and the representation of SCs in cabinet remained static. In recent reshuffle in the cabinet again the lone Cabinet Minister belonging to SC community was replaced by another MLA. There was open revolt against this discrimination by only 01 SC MLA (Mr. Dina Nath-Chenani), other remained silent spectators and one of them Dr. Krishan Lal (Chhamb) accepted his parties decision with folded hands and rather countered Dina Nath’s revolt.
In J&K, the SC/ST’s gave 09 MLA’s to BJP from Jammu province with a hope that Modi’s tall slogans of equitable development of all (SAB KAA SATH-SAB KA VIKAS) will do wonders for them as Congress had miserably failed to raise standards of SC/ST’s educationally, socially, economically and politically. In Mufti’s cabinet only 01 ST & 01 SC was taken as Minister from BJP’s quota and both were relegated to low profile portfolios. The only 01 SC Minister in the previous cabinet was an old worker of RSS-BJP, who otherwise never bothered much about SC’s whom he represented in BJP and the cabinet. The ST MLA from Kalakote is the only Muslim face in BJP who won election & probably as a default he is minister in the J&K cabinet. The issue is serious and needs thorough retrospections. Has the political reservation lost its essence? The reserved categories political representatives instead of raising the issues of their community prefer to toe the with lines of their political bosses and prefer not to speak even for constitutional rights. These representatives in spite of being capable, do not get due share in governance and instead finish their tenure in a hope to get a ministerial berth let it be a low profile portfolio. A Uniform opinion is emerging amongst the intellectuals, socioreligious groups and even employees of reserved categories that that these MLA’s and the reserved categories minister s till now had dismal performance graph vis a vis raising issues of their communities for which they were elected as representative. Furthermore, MLA’s of BJP befooled their masses and toed with BJP lines that is against any type of reservation for SC/ST’s. Now BJP SC/ST MLA’s seems to be in catch 22 situations, whether to toe with party lines or toe with their reserved constituency people. The sooner SC/ST MLA’s define their roadmap, the better it is for them and for the community they are representing in political system.
Prof. Kali Dass