NEW DELHI: Declaring that it was "running out of patience", NDA constituent Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) on Friday warned of an agitation if an ordinance to strengthen the SC-ST Act was not promulgated and the Chairman of the National Green Tribunal was not removed by August 9.
The development comes three days after it wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi apprising him of an expected backlash from Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) over the government's inaction in resolving their issues.
Addressing a press conference, Chirag Paswan, party MP and son of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, said people from the SC and ST communities were feeling betrayed as the BJP-led NDA government had not issued an ordinance "as yet" to overturn the Supreme Court's March 20 order that "diluted" the original SC-ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The government appointed Justice A.K Goel, "who ruled against the Act", as NGT Chairman.
"We are running out of patience as no action has been taken to restore the Act as yet. On April 2, agitations were held across the country. Similar agitations have been announced by some organisations on August 9. We want the government to bring an ordinance to restore the Act before that. Our Dalit Sena will take to the streets if it is not done," he said.
"Also, we want removal of Justice Goel from the post of NGT Chairman. These steps will help in building SC, ST people's trust in the government," he added.
He said the government's decision to appoint retired SC judge Goel as NGT Chairman had sent a message to these communities that the government had awarded the judge who was one of the judges of the two-member bench that 'diluted' provisions of the Act.
"We have been asking the government to restore the provisions of the Act as soon as possible as people are sad and disappointed with the SC order. Also, Goel's appointment as NGT Chairman is being seen as an award," Paswan said.
In the letter to Modi, Paswan said that people from SC and ST communities had taken to the streets after SC passed the order on March 20 and made a request to take "appropriate steps" in time as the August 9 agitations were expected to be "sharper" and "fiercer".
The Chairman of the LJP Parliamentary Board demanded the introduction of reservation in private sector jobs and placing reservation in the 9th schedule of the Constitution to counter the Opposition charge that the government was bent on ending quotas in education and government service.
Replying to questions, the Jamui MP said party President Ram Vilas Paswan would decide the party's next course of action based on the government's response to the demands.
He said the party had faith in Modi but expressed concern if the government was listening to the appeals and demands made by the party. "Had the government been listening to us, the situation would not have come to this pass," he said.
Paswan said the party had aligned with the National Democratic Alliance since it was assured that the interests of people from the SC and ST communities "would not be hurt".
He also added that his party was still with the government and was pushing for its demands while being within the government. "We will not take any step like the TDP took", he said in reference to the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh which quit the NDA earlier this year over the demand for a special category status to the state.