The Congress government in Chhattisgarh has decided to convene a special Assembly session on tribal reservation, as resentment boils over a ‘cut’ in quota following a recent High Court decision to strike down a 2012 legislation giving 32 per cent reservation to tribals.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said on Twitter on Wednesday that a proposal to convene a special session on tribal reservation has been sent to the Assembly Speaker Charandas Mahant. “Have requested (the Speaker) to convene the special session on December 1 and 2,” Baghel tweeted.
Sources said that the government might bring in fresh legislation on increased tribal quota after taking care of legal provisions in the matter. A bill in this regard is likely to be tabled during the special session for passage.
A government release said that the chief minister has assured the tribal population that the government is making all efforts to restore the 32 per cent quota for them. A team of senior government officials and social workers will be visiting Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka soon to study the legal situation there in the context of quota over the 50 per cent constitutional bar. The general administration department of the Chhattisgarh government has already issued an order on the official status of this study team.
The chief minister has said that his government is implementing all provisions for the interests and protection of the tribals as per the constitution. “It is our intention that the tribal people should get all the constitutional rights,” Baghel said.
After the Chhattisgarh High Court struck down the legislation on September 19, a situation of confusion and resentment has been reigning in the state. There is confusion on the point whether the striking down of the 2012 legislation would mean that no quota now exists in the state until the government brings in a fresh resolution or whether the quota situation prior to 2012 will come into effect.
Enrollment in educational institutes and the recruitment process for government jobs have come to a virtual standstill due to the confusion on the quota situation. Also, there is huge resentment among the tribal population which is the major loser in the entire scenario as it stands to lose the higher quota provision.
Opposition BJP and a faction of the Sarva Adiwasi Samaj have been threatening to launch an agitation on the issue. The Sarva Adiwasi Samaj has announced to hold an ‘economic blockade’ agitation on November 15.
The Congress government is therefore trying its best to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. It has already filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the HC decision. Petitions have also been filed by other individuals and organizations in the apex court as well as the Chhattisgarh High Court in the matter.
Before 2012, Chhattisgarh state, which had been created through the bifurcation of Madhya Pradesh in the year 2000, had a SC/ST/OBC quota division similar to the parent state – that is 16 pc, 20 pc and 14 pc respectively. However, since Chhattisgarh is a tribal-dominated state with around 31 pc ST population according to census of 2011, the BJP-led state government, under the directive of the union government had brought in legislation in 2012 to increase the quota for tribal people to 32 pc and reduce that of SCs to 12 pc.
This legislation was challenged by Guru Ghasidas Sahitya evam Sanskriti Academy in the High Court, on the point of reduction of SC quota in 2012 itself. After a legal battle of a decade, the HC struck down the legislation on the ground that it overshot the constitutional bar of 50 per cent quota.