They have gone up to seven from four in 2004 elections
Bangalore: The number of constituencies reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Karnataka has gone up after the delimitation of constituencies, from four in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections to seven in 2009, the highest increase for any State or Union Territory.
The significant rise in the number of reserved seats in Karnataka is on account of the reclassification of certain caste categories, especially amongst the Schedule Tribes. Though the change in categorisation occurred way back in 1977, it is being reflected for the first time in these Lok Sabha elections.
In the context of Karnataka Lok Sabha elections, of particular significance is the change in categorisation of the numerically strong Nayaka community, which has pushed up the number of reserved ST seats from zero to two since the last general elections, points out Sandeep Shastry, political analyst.
Prior to the re-categorisation in 1977, Nayakas were earlier regarded as ST only in the four districts of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. Elsewhere they were categorised as Backward Tribe, says Ravivarma Kumar, senior advocate and former president of the Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission. It was through an Act of Parliament on July 7, 1977, that tribes like the Nayakas, regardless of the region from which they hailed, came to be uniformly categorised as ST, he adds.
Similarly re-categorisation has also pushed up the numbers of the Bovis and Lambanis who are now uniformly classified as Scheduled Castes. This factor has taken the reserved seats from four to five for SCs.
Thus, re-categorisation has resulted in a substantial increase in the total ST and SC population in Karnataka. The 2001 Census figures puts the ST population in Karnataka at 34,63,986, which makes it 6.6 per cent of the total population.
The Census data also says that 49 ST communities have been notified in Karnataka by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Act, 1976, and by the Act 39 of 1991. Karnataka has the second highest number of Schedule Tribes after Orissa which has 64.
The reserved constituencies in the 2004 election were based on the Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Order, 1976. The present election is based on Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Order, 2008. The last Assembly elections in Karnataka were also based on 2008 Order and had seen a significant spurt in the number of reserved seats. ST reserved seats had gone up from two to 15.
Followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal have seen an increase of two reserved seats each. On the other hand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh have seen a decline by one reserved seat each.