Goa ST community has to wait till 2026 delimitation for political quota

Panaji, Aug 20 (IANS): Once again the Scheduled Tribe (ST) community in Goa has warned of boycotting the Lok Sabha election in 2024 as the Centre has clarified that they will have to wait beyond 2026 for political reservation.

The legislative department of the Union Ministry of Law and Justice in its letter to the director of tribal welfare Dashrath Redkar has stated that the exercise of reserving seats for Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the state legislative assembly would only take place through a Delimitation Commission after 2026.

“Articles 82 and 170(2) and the Explanation to article 330 read with article 332 of the Constitution provides that until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, it shall not be necessary to readjust the seats in the Legislative Assembly of each State.

"Therefore, it is clear that the next delimitation exercise and the readjustment of seats, including the number of seats to be reserved for the SCs and STs would only take place by a Delimitation Commission to be constituted for the purpose after the relevant figures of the census taken after the year 2026 is published,” the letter stated.

In the recently concluded monsoon assembly session the Goa Assembly had unanimously adopted a private member resolution to make provision for political reservation in the Assembly for members from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the state.

The resolution was moved by Scheduled Tribes’ leader, MLA Dr Ganesh Gaonkar, on July 21. The members of the ST community in Goa have been demanding political reservation for the last two decades.

They had said that they would boycott the 2024 Lok Sabha elections if reservation is not declared before the polls, and had also held a daylong hunger strike at Lohia Maidan in May this year.

In his resolution, Gaonkar stated, "This House strongly recommends the Government to make provision for political reservation in the Goa Legislative Assembly for the Scheduled Tribes of Goa State.

"As per the census of 2011, Scheduled Tribes (ST) constitute 10.23% of Goa's population. This community deserves to be brought into the mainstream, needs support to make the community more educated as well as empowered and hence needs a larger political representation to achieve the same."

He added that political reservation has been the main demand of the ST community for several years.

Many ST communities were in the OBC category since 1968, but during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2003, Gawada, Kunabi and Velip (three tribes) were declared Scheduled Tribes by the Goa government.

Speaking about the resolution, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had said that letters in this regard have been sent to the Union government. "We are serious about giving reservation to the ST community. We will send a delegation to the Home Minister and Law Minister to give a representation in this regard," he said.

United under the banner of the 'Mission Political Reservation for Scheduled Tribe of Goa' (MPRSTG), many ST youths have dedicated themselves to achieving the goal.

Knowing the seriousness of the issue, many non-ST politicians have also supported the movement and have drawn the attention of the government by submitting memorandums in the past.

MPRSTG president Joao Fernandes reacting to the current development said that the letter by the Centre states that reservation is not possible before 2026.

“Readjustment formula cannot be used for Goa as there was no reservation (for STs) in assembly and Parliament seats. The Central government should revisit its decision and resolve our issue,” he said.

“The Goa government had promised to take an all party delegation to the Centre to press the demand for reservation for STs. Hence, it should now take steps and resolve our issue. If it fails to notify reservations before 2024 then we will boycott the Lok Sabha election. We will take this issue to every village of Goa and spread awareness,” Fernandes said.

In the past the ST community took out rallies and tried to draw the attention of the government. According to them, there are around 1.30 lakh ST voters in Goa and hence, they should be given political reservation. In May, the MPRSTG members held a meeting at Lohia Maidan in Margao and resolved to boycott the Lok Sabha election in 2024 if their demand for political reservation was not conceded by the government.

The ST leaders had also held a daylong hunger strike at Lohia Maidan. Currently there are four ST MLAs in the Assembly, including Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar.

The opposition parties have criticised the BJP government over the issue, alleging that ‘double engines’ have failed.



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Comment on this article

  • mohan prabhu, LL.D. QC, mangalore/canada

    Sun, Aug 20 2023

    Does the Goa ST/SC community have any leg to stand in the face of the clear constitutional position asserted by the Cente as to reservations? If the answer of the Centre is wrong, then first fight it out in the courts and not on the political battleground, or lose all credibility for the boycott of the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

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Title: Goa ST community has to wait till 2026 delimitation for political quota

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