BJP in damage control as Dalit fury spreads

PMO asks social justice ministry to keep quota pot boiling, broaching ideas such as caste reservation in private jobs

Published: 01st August 2016 03:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st August 2016 08:17 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: The BJP government is mulling over a plethora of ideas to preempthe potential danger behind the spreading Dalit unrest in the country. They include reservation for SC/STs in the private sector, quotas in promotions, Dalit Mahasangam and a national convention of Dalit writers.

Designed by the PMO with assistance from party chief Amit Shah and inputs from party intellectuals, the Ministry of Social Justice headed by Thawar Chand Gehlot is entrusted with the execution of the plan. Reservation seems to be at the heart of the BJP’s strategies to overcome the current unrest and the ministry has been told to keep the reservation pot boiling. It has been specifically told to float discussions around it.

Dalits have been on warpath over the issues of public humiliation and flogging of a family of Dalits in Una village in Gujarat by gau rakhshaks. A ministry official said the PMO had instructed  it to bring reservation in the private sector and in promotions to the discussion table. A high-level Coordination Committee will be set up to discuss reservation in the private sector. The ministry will meet with Industry associations including Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). “We are exploring options to ensure equal opportunities in employment and remove any bias against disadvantaged sections of society,’’ said the official.

The BJP’s opponents, such as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Left parties, are demanding reservation in the private sector.  The other important item on the agenda is reservation in promotions. The Supreme Court had ruled SCs and STs cannot claim quotas as a right in promotions in government jobs. Now the government is seriously thinking of reviving the 117th Constitution Amendment Bill which ensures reservation for the SC/STs in promotions. The bill has been pending in the Lok Sabha for more than three years after its passage in the Rajya Sabha during the UPA government’s tenure. The Department of Personnel and Training will maintain centrally collected data on the reservation and promotions of SCs/STs. A Mahadalit convention is planned in the capital. The Prime Minister will attend the convention which will organised either be by the SC/ST commission or the ministry. A national convention of Dalit writers and a conference of Dalit entrepreneurs are also likely to be held in New Delhi. 

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