Kannada columnist and Special Officer in-charge of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes’ Welfare Cell at the Mangalore University M.P. Umeshchandra has called for an end to the political reservation for Dalits in the electoral system.

He said that those elected through reserved constituencies have become symbolic figures, he pointed out that these leaders rarely take up Dalit issues and tend to toe the party line after being elected. “The complete lack of a pro-Dalit political voice is proof that this system has not worked,” he said.

Delivering a lecture at a function organised by the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (Ambedkar Wada) to mark Ambedkar Jayanti, Mr. Umeshchandra said that reservation for Dalit candidates in the electoral system has only created slavish representatives who are subservient to political parties with a casteist agenda. “These reservations were created for a period of 10 years in 1951 but they have been periodically extended through amendments to the constitution. They have outlived their use,” he said.

According to Mr. Umeshchandra reservations should continue in jobs and education but not in the political arena since it leads to “ghettoisation” of Dalit politicians and sidelining of Dalit causes. Alleging that political reservations are a way to deprive political power to Dalits and Adivasis, he pointed out that anti-reservation politicians such as Arun Shourie never talk against political reservations.

He also pointed out powerful political blocks created by communities such as the Lingayats, Vokalligas, Yadavs and Jats and said that the political assertion of Dalits could grow only when seat reservations are scrapped.

“In the political arena, the need is to restart the agitation for separate electorates for Dalits and Adivasis as envisioned by B.R. Ambedkar,” he said.

Meanwhile, he also said that political reservations should be extended to other communities such as Brahmins and Muslims as well as Other Backward Castes for a short term period of 10 years.

Earlier, he also reminded the audience that Ambedkar was strongly against adulatory and symbolic politics. “It does not matter if you cannot celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14. Make sure you spread his message,” he said.

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