Panel members divided over reservation policy

Nityanand Shukla/Ranchi

Though the Jharkhand Government has constituted a Cabinet sub-committee to look into the reservation policy, the issue seems to be quite contentious given the contradictory views of some of the committee members and ministers in the Chief Minister Mr Babu Lal Marandi's Government.

Babu Lal Marandi amid much heat from different quarters over reservation had, on Friday, called a Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet constituted a six-member Cabinet sub committee to study the legal aspects and implementation of reservation in other states. The committee has got 10 days to submit its report.

State Welfare Minister Arjun Munda would head the committee which has five other members including Lal Chand Mahto, P N Singh, Ramchander Singh, Ramji Lal Sarda and Sudesh Mahto, but many of the committee members and other ministers in the Marandi Cabinet do not seem to share one view on reservation.

Recently the Government had decided to reserve 60 per cent seats in Government jobs: 27 per cent for schedule tribes (ST), 11 per cent for schedule caste and 22 percent for backward classes, but the decision was criticized by BJP MP Salkhan Murmu who heads Adivasi Janadhikar Manch comprising tribal students.

The Manch is pressing for 60 per cent reservation for the tribals in Government job, legislatures and educational institutions. It had last week laid a seize around the residence of the Chief Minister in support of their demand. Again the Manch organized a dawn to dusk Jharkhand bandh on May 15.

Lal Chand Mahato, power minister and member in the Cabinet sub-committee has a different view. "STs should not be given reservation more than 27 per cent in Government jobs. 50 per cent seats should be reserved for backward classes," Lal Chand Mahato had said just before the constitution of the Cabinet sub-committee. He said that the tribal's demand for 60 per cent reservation was not justified. Mahato comes from Kurmi caste which constitutes more than 20 per cent of the population of the state.

Science and Technology Minister Samresh Singh said "Government should give appropriate reservation to the tribals of the state". He even advocated 80 per cent reservation for the ST community and original people.

However Industry Minister P N Singh, who is also a Cabinet sub-committee member, felt that interest of all the communities of the State should be taken care of while deciding the reservation policy.

The Urban Development Minister Bacha Singh said that he would oppose any move by the Government to give more than 50 per cent reservation in Government job. "Giving reservation beyond 50 per cent limit would be a violation of the order of the Supreme Court" the minister said.

These ministers do not seem to be in a relenting mood. "We will not let the Government go on the path of Panchyat Bill," told a minister to The Pioneer on condition of anonymity.

The Government has reserved 80 per cent seats in scheduled areas and 60 per cent in non-scheduled areas for SC, ST and backward castes in the Panchayat Bill.

However, the Kurmis were not included in the reservation. They demanded that they be given the status of ST category in the State.

The Kurmi ministers of Marandi Government and a BJP MP Ramtahal Chaudhary openly opposed the move of Government. Despite their protest Government did not gave reservation to them in Panchyat Bill. Kurmis have now called a rally in the State capital Ranchi on May 25 to press for their demand.

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Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: May 22, 2001
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