‘Dalit MPs’ issues will be addressed’


Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawarchand Gehlot, whose Ministry is piloting the review petition against the Supreme Court’s orders on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, has said that issues raised by Dalit MPs from the BJP will be addressed.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Gehlot said, “If they [the four MPs] have a problem with something that a State government has done or some administrative issue, then they will be spoken to and issues addressed.”
Paswan’s remarks
He dismissed suggestions that the MPs’ plaint had anything to do with the saaf neeyat (clean intentions) of the Narendra Modi government with regard to Dalits. He said Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s recent remarks that there was a perception building that the government was anti-Dalit was “not a complete representation” of what Mr. Paswan had wanted to say.
“I have spoken to Paswanji in these past few years and he has never expressed anything but the most positive views on the government’s engagement with Dalits,” he said.
Asked about the delay alleged by the Opposition in filing the review petition, Mr. Gehlot countered it aggressively.
He said, “The order came out on March 20, and we read about it the next morning. On March 23 itself, we moved the file concerning the review petition and the Law Ministry too signed off on it. March 24 and 25 were holidays due to weekend. Then we were hit with a four-day break between March 29 and April 1. On Monday, April 2, the earliest possible day that the petition could be filed, we went ahead.”
Attacks Congress
“The Congress, which claims to safeguard the interests of the Dalits, did not move a review petition on the Allahabad High Court orders on reservation in promotions when Mayawatiji was Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and had been challenged. It was the Samajwadi Party that had opposed it. It was our government that moved a review petition in 2017,” he said.
“Constitution framers were very clear that there are certain sections of society that were historically discriminated against … Reservation was announced to overcome the discrimination and to build a more equitable society. The BJP has always been in favour of it and will stand by that policy,” he said.


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