Amaravati: MLA Sridevi in caste identity row
u President Ram Nath Kovind orders District Collector to probe the alleged false election affidavit and misuse of SC status by the YSRCP’s Tadikonda MLA u Legal Rights Protection Forum files the complaint stating that being an avowed Christian, she has no right to claim SC status
Amaravati: After admitting that her religious faith as Christianity, Tadikonda YSRCP MLA Vundavalli Sridevi landed in controversy and even her claim to Scheduled Caste (SC) status is at stake now.
President of India Ram Nath Kovind ordered a probe into the allegedly false election affidavit and misuse of SC status by Sridevi based on a complaint lodged by A S Santosh, working president, Legal Rights Protection Forum.
"Rashtrapati Bhavan forwarded our petition to AP Chief Secretary L V Subrahmanyam, ordering inquiry into the matter of filing false election affidavit and misuse of SC status by elected MLA Vundavalli Sridevi, Tadikonda Constituency (SC Reserved), Guntur district," Santosh told The Hans India.
In fact, after failure of all efforts at various levels in the government, the Forum filed this petition to President on September 8, 2019 and also pursued its progress through Right To Information query on October 1. Replying to the RTI, the Rashtrapati Bhavan informed that the petition has been forwarded to the authorities concerned in the state and an inquiry was in progress.
Santosh said they had filed their first complaint to the district collector on September 4. "As there was no response, we took the matter to the notice of the Chief Electoral Officer of AP, but again they forwarded the complaint to the district collector. We tried to speak to the collector but there was no proper response. Hence, finally we approached the President's Secretariat seeking action," he said.
When contacted, Sridevi claimed that there was nothing wrong in having belief in Christianity and there were Supreme Court guidelines on it. She further explained that there was no relation between caste and religion. Caste would not be identified based on religious faith, she added.
Moreover, she argued that if this was the case, how could the TDP former MLA Vangalapudi Anitha, a Christian, got elected from Payakaraopet which was SC Reserved constituency.
Alleging that this was all a political game by the TDP, she had explained about her caste in many a time on various occasions. "I even showed the documents to district collector and others. My father is an SC. I am an SC by birth. I have SC certificate in SSC too. I contested from an SC constituency after taking the valid certificate from the government authorities," she said.
However, contradicting the MLAs claims, Legal Rights Protection Forum's Santosh said as per the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950, "No person who professes a religions different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste".
When asked about the progress of the inquiry, district collector I Samuel Anand Kumardid not respond.
However, then Union minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions and minister of state in the PMO Jitendra Singh in a written reply to Pratyusha Rajeshwari Singh in the Lok Sabha on March 16, 2016 said, "The Scheduled Castes converted to Christianity are included in the Central List of Other Backward Classes of some of the States and are entitled to the benefit of the reservation in services of the Central Government."
Adding to that, the AP government also classified the converted SCs into Christianity under Backward Classes Group C.
The AP list of socially and educationally Backward Classes, as per the report of Anantaraman Commission, GO Ms No.1793 dated September 23 1970, amended from time to time as on September 9, the SCs converted into Christianity are classified into BC C, under the Harijan Converts sub section. It mentioned that, "Scheduled Castes converts to Christianity and their progeny as per the G.O.Ms.No.5, Social Welfare Department, dated January 24, 1981 are considered as BC C.
But Sridevi was born as SC and subsequently converted into Christianity, as she herself admitted, the problem arises.