PATNA: Injecting another churn into the caste cauldron, Dalit leader and former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Sunday demanded laws to ensure that people belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) communities have voting rights in constituencies reserved for SCs in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.
“Separate voter lists for the SC people should be prepared for constituencies reserved for them. Only the SC people should be allowed to cast votes in these constituencies. This will ensure that their rights are protected and they are empowered,” said Manjhi, the national president of Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAM-S), at a rally he organised at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan.
The Dalit leader cited the example of election for seats of the Legislative Councils reserved for graduates and teachers, in which only they are allowed to vote. He also demanded that the Centre release the caste-related data of the 2011 Census. Speaking at the rally, which was attended by a large number of people from SC communities, Manjhi’s son Santosh Manjhi put forward a proposal seeking 85 per cent reservation for people from backward communities.
Attacking both the Centre and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar-led NDA government, Manjhi said the condition of Dalits had worsened in the past few years due to the rulers’ apathy. He accused the Bihar government of targeting the Dalit community in the name of implementing prohibition in the state.
“More than one lakh people, most of them from the poor and Dalit communities, have been jailed for violating the liquor ban. The government must stop torturing Dalits,” he said.
In Uttar Pradesh, NDA ally SBSP on Sunday accused Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of not following “coalition dharma” and “ignoring” the party.
“I will have detailed discussions with BJP president Amit Shah on various issues when he visits Lucknow on April 10 and then decide my party’s course of action,” SBSP leader and UP minister Om Prakash Rajbhar told reporters.