Call for SC/ST Sub-Plan at national level

Call for SC/ST Sub-Plan at national level

- Leaders of various parties appreciate AP initiative - Stress on statutory support to Sub-Plan at all-India...

- Leaders of various parties appreciate AP initiative - Stress on statutory support to Sub-Plan at all-India level - Agree to meet PM to urge replication of AP Sub-Plan

Venkat Parsa

New Delhi : Political consensus appeared to have emerged on the need to replicate at the national-level the SC/ST Sub-Plan that has been accorded statutory status in Andhra Pradesh. All political parties at a round-table organised by the Centre for Dalit Studies (CDS) agreed on the need to approach the Prime Minister and urge him to convene an all-party meeting on the issue.

The round-table was attended by CPI General Secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy and another CPI leader D Raja, Basudeb Acharia and V Srinivas Rao (CPM), G Vinod Kumar (TRS), D P Tripathi (NCP), Abani Roy (RSP), Mann (RLD), Thawar Chand Gehlot and Arjun Meghwal (BJP) and Dr Aparna (CPI-ML New Democracy).

Former Union Welfare Secretary P S Krishnan, considered in many ways the architect of the SC/ST Sub-Plan, traced the history of the movement and developments that finally made it possible. Mallepalli Lakshmaiah of the Centre for Dalit Studies, the moving spirit behind the movement for enactment of the Sub-Plan bill, described how a massive struggle had to be waged to put pressure on the AP government to enact the Act. He urged the political parties to bring the issue onto the political agenda, so that the Andhra Pradesh law could be replicated at the Centre.

Vishalandhra Editor K Srinivas Reddy pointed out the layered approach, when the media had to be sensitized on the issue. Pointing out that diversion of funds was a gross misuse, he underlined the need to relentlessly continue the struggle.

Dr Aparna blamed the tendency of the administration to judge the allocation of funds by the percentage and not on the quality of spending. Mostly Governments hardly see the need to better the lives of the SCs/STs. She pledged her party's support in any movement in this regard. Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy said the Centre for Dalit Studies gets the credit for raising the issue and putting pressure on political parties.

The Andhra Pradesh legislation should serve as the inspiration for the political parties to take up the issue. He assured that individually the CPI will write to the Prime Minister on the issue and will also act in concert with other political parties. Basudeb Acharia (CPM) stressed on the need for legislation because of the Government tendency not to allocate sufficiently and even if allocation is made, the fund is rarely fully utilised. Basic facilities are not available for Dalits like safe drinking water, housing and proper roads. Like in Andhra Pradesh, there is need for a movement to compel the Centre enact the law.

D P Tripathi (NCP) proposed an all-party delegation meeting with the Prime Minister on the issue. He complimented Andhra Pradesh for taking the lead in linguistic reorganisation of the States as also in enacting the law for SC/ST Sub-Plan.A Vinod Kumar insisted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should be urged to take the initiative to convene an all-party meeting, just as he did on the issue of quota in promotions. "In a democracy, experience makes us wiser. Now the need of the hour is for political parties to come forward on the issue.

BJP General Secretary Thawar Chand Gehlot congratulated the Andhra Pradesh Government for enacting the legislation. He said the BJP had always been sensitive on issues relating to SC and would certainly cooperate with other political parties on the issue. He said D Raja and himself were members of the Parliamentary SC/ST Committee, which kept a close eye on the issue of under-utilisation of funds for these sections.

The Hans India and HMTV Chief Editor K Ramachandra Murthy said what was good for Andhra Pradesh should hold good for the nation. Reservations in education and in employment alone were not enough, he said, underscoring the need for Sub-Plan with statutory status that would ensure release of dedicated funds for development of the underprivileged sections of society. He described as a victory of inclusive politics that all political parties were in favour of the SC/ST Sub-Plan.

He complimented the media in Andhra Pradesh for playing a positive role in publicizing a public debate that was followed by dharnas. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy sensed an opportunity in it of reaching out to the targeted sections. He set up a Cabinet Sub-Committee under the Chairmanship of Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Raja Narasimha. A special session of Andhra Pradesh Assembly was convened to pass the law, giving statutory status to the SC/ST Sub-Plan. This can now be replicated at the national level, he said.

Paul Diwakar, national convener, National Coalition on SCP/TSP, made a PowerPoint presentation on the necessity for dedicated funds for SCs and STs.

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