Congress finally fires 6 communities' ST status salvo at BJP

Congress finally fires 6 communities' ST status salvo at BJP

gaurav gogoi gaurav gogoi

GUWAHATI: The Congress that has been taking on the BJP-led NDA alliance on various issues over the past couple of months as part of its campaign for Assam elections 2021, has finally taken up the issue of the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six ethnic communities of Assam.

Kaliabor MP Gaurav Gogoi today took to his Twitter handle to state: “The government continues to fail the people of Assam. Despite promises, the government has yet not included Matak, Maran, Tai Ahom, Chutia, Koch Rajbongshi, Tea Tribes as STs. Committee formed to recommend modalities submitted its report in 2018 which is classified as 'secret'.”

He also posted a copy of the written answer by Union tribal affairs minister Renuka Singh Saruta to questions from him and fellow Barpeta MP Abdul Khaleque at the Lok Sabha yesterday.

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Replying to whether the Centre has received recommendations from the Assam government regarding scheduling of the communities and the timeline for implementation, Saruta said: “Yes Sir, proposal has been received from the State Government of Assam for inclusion/granting of Scheduled Tribes(ST) status to six communities, namely Matak, Maran, Tai Ahom, Chutia and Koch Rajbongshi and Tea Tribes in Assam. The Government of India on 15.6.1999 (further amended on 25.6.2002), has laid down the modalities for determining the claims for inclusion in, exclusion from and other modification in the Orders specifying list of Scheduled Tribes. According to these modalities, only those proposals which have been recommended and justified by the concerned State Government/Union Territory Administration and concurred with by the Registrar General of India (RGI) and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes are to be considered for amendment of legislation. All actions are taken with respect to proposals of State/UT Governments for the communities demanding Scheduled Tribes status as per these modalities. As such, no timeline can be specified for inclusion of communities.”

The Union minister also stated: “A Committee was constituted … to recommend the modalities for granting of Scheduled Tribes status to six Communities namely, Koch Rajbongshi, Moran, Matak, Tai Ahom, Chutia and Adivasi (Tea Tribes) in Assam … the Committee was required to suggest the modalities for the required reservations, of shifting the existing reservation for these communities from OBC to ST, protecting the interests of existing tribes, a mechanism to ensure fairness of reservations within these six communities and related security considerations. The Committee submitted its report on 28.12.2018, which is classified as 'Secret'.”

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The BJP, that had promised ST status to the six communities before the 2016 Assam elections, has been skirting the issue during the current campaign for the state assembly polls scheduled to be held from March 27 to April 6 in three phases.

The demand has been a long standing one since the time of 15 years of Congress rule in the state though.

Some of the communities have even threatened to boycott the BJP for the delay in scheduling of their communities. Apparently ignorant of the developments, BJP national president JP Nadda recently rake up a row stating in Silchar that the six communities have been granted ST status.

Edited By: Imtiaz Ahmed
Published On: Mar 16, 2021