V.S. Ugrappa | Interview

‘Demand for hike in ST quota is in keeping with increased population’

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It is more than a decade-old demand and not a new one, says the former MP

Members of the Valmiki community reached Bengaluru after a 16-day padayatra (covering over 280 km) from Rajanahalli in Davangere district seeking a hike in reservation for Scheduled Tribes people from 3.3% to 7.5% in jobs and education sector. In an interview, V.S. Ugrappa, former MP and one among the senior leaders who participated in the agitation, has said the demand is more than a decade old. Excerpts:

Why has the community all of a sudden come mobilising itself with this demand?

Our demand is not new. It is more than a decade old. The Manmohan Singh government in 2005 increased the reservation to STs to 7.5% in Central government jobs and education. The State government too increased the political representation. Now, we are seeking its extension to jobs and admissions to education institutions too under Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution.

Did the community raise the issue during the previous Siddaramaiah government’s tenure?

Of course, we did raise our voice during the the Congress government (2013–18). I spoke for more than two hours in the Legislative Council at a legislature session held in Belagavi in 2017. Then Chief Minister Siddramaiah said the government needs data and accurate figures to raise the quota. The Social Welfare Department constituted a committee headed by H. Kantaraju to conduct a caste census. The government spent more than ₹200 crore on it, but the committee failed to come out with a report.

What is the logic behind the community’s demand to increase the reservation percentage?

This is because the population of Scheduled Tribes community has increased to over 7% of the State’s population. Earlier, the community’s population was less. With the increased population, we are demanding to extend the reservation from politics to jobs and education sector also.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 1:28:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/demand-for-hike-in-st-quota-is-in-keeping-with-increased-population/article28159925.ece

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