Six communities seeking ST status threaten agitation

Ahead of panchayat polls in Assam, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday announced a five-time hike in honorariums of elected representatives of all the three tiers of panchayats The State Election Commission has been making preparations for holding the polls in January.

Making the announcement after the first day’s session of the five-day long winter session of the Assembly, Mr. Gogoi told journalists that 26,844 elected representatives right from the presidents of zilla parishad, anchalik panchayat and gaon panchayat to members would benefit.

A zilla parishad president will now get a honorarium of Rs. 10,000 a month, a vice-president Rs. 7,500 and a member Rs. 3,500; the payment for anchalik panchayat president will be Rs. 7,500, vice-president Rs. 5,000 and member Rs. 2500.Following the hike, each gaon panchayat president will get Rs. 5,000, vice-president Rs. 3,000 and member Rs. 1,500.

There are 20 zilla parishads, 185 anchalik panchayats and 2202 gaon panchayats.

On the issue of granting Scheduled Tribe status to six communities — Koch-Rajbangshis, Tai-Ahoms, Tea tribes, Chutia, Morans and Mataks — Mr. Gogoi said his government had not yet received any official intimation from the Registrar General of India (RGI) rejecting the plea.

The Congress-led coalition government had backed the demand and made elaborate representation to the RGI. The State government also constituted development councils for the six communities.

Several organisations representing the six communities have announced agitation programmes following the reported RGI move.

Charge against BJP

Mr. Gogoi accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to hoodwink the six communities by promising to include them in the ST list within 24 hours of coming to power. He asked why the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government did not do this in 2002, when it granted ST status to 42 communities of the country.

A zilla parishad president will now get a honorarium of Rs. 10,000 a month