Karnataka

Threat of stir for hike in ST quota looms while two leaders vie for Deputy Chief Minister’s post

A file photo of a protest by Valmiki community members, in Bengaluru.

A file photo of a protest by Valmiki community members, in Bengaluru.  

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Valmki community seer has demanded that the govt. announce an increase before February 9

The demand for increasing the Scheduled Tribe reservation quota — from 3.3% to 7.5% — is back in the limelight in Karnataka at a time when two prominent BJP leaders from the Valmiki (ST) community — Minister for Health and Family Welfare B. Sriramulu and five-time MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi — are clamouring for the posts of Deputy Chief Minister.

Community members have threatened to relaunch their agitation seeking an increase in the quota if the State government does not concede their decade-long demand.

Sulking Sriramulu

Mr. Sriramulu, who was projected as the leader of the Valmiki community by the BJP during the Assembly elections, has been sulking since he has been denied the Deputy Chief Minister’s post in the B.S. Yediyurappa-led government. To get the post during the next round of Cabinet rejig, the Minister has been camping in the national capital for the last two days and making every attempt to meet BJP national president and Home Minister Amit Shah.

Mr. Jarkiholi, who defected from the Congress to the BJP and got re-elected in the byelection, has also been doing all he can to get the Deputy Chief Minister’s post. He has been meeting community seers and lobbying hard. Cabinet expansion is expected to take place this month.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Valmiki community, the fourth largest in the State, have been stepping up pressure on the government to increase the quota. The government has set up a committee headed by retired High Court judge H.N. Nagamohan Das to look into the demand. The panel is expected to submit its report by this month-end.

Meanwhile, Prasannananda Puri Swami of Valmiki Gurupeetha recently threatened that Mr. Yediyurappa’s tenure would be cut short if the demand to increase the ST quota was not fulfilled by February 9, the day when the annual jatra of Maharshi Valmiki is held at Rajanahalli in Harihar, Davangere district. In case the committee recommends an increase in the quota, the BJP government should make an official announcement on the same by February 9, the seer said.

With an increase in the population, the community has been demanding extending the hike in the quantum of reservation, which exists as far as political representation is concerned, to jobs and education sector too. “The State government has increased political representation. Now, we are seeking its extension to jobs and admissions to education institutions too under Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution,” a Congress leader said.

A few months ago, members of the Valmiki community undertook a 16-day padayatra (covering over 280 km) from Rajanahalli to Bengaluru seeking a hike in the reservation for STs in jobs and education sector. In 2005, the Manmohan Singh-led government at the Centre increased the reservation to STs in Central government jobs and educational institutions to 7.5%.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 1:45:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/threat-of-stir-for-hike-in-st-quota-looms-while-two-leaders-vie-for-deputy-chief-ministers-post/article30481713.ece

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