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Press statement by BJP National Spokesperson, Shri Ramnath Kovind on report of Rangnath Mishra Commission

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The Government of India constituted National Religious and Linguistic Minorities Commission on October 29, 2004. The Commission's report was placed on the floor of both houses of the Parliament on December 18, 2009. Justice Rangnath Mishra was the Chairman of the Commission so the Commission is known by his name as Rangnath Mishra Commission.
 
The report of the Commission is not unanimous. The Commission, inter alia, made recommendations to give 15 percent reservation to minorities under Backward Class quota in education, government employment and social welfare schemes. Out of this 15 percent reservation, 10 percent reservation has been recommended to Muslim Community and remaining 5 percent to other minority communities. The Commission has further recommended to include convert Dalit Christian and Dalit Muslims in the list of Scheduled Castes.
 
At present convert Christians and Muslims are getting reservation in government jobs under Backward Class categories. The Question is when they are already getting reservation in backward class category why do they want reservation in Scheduled Castes category. The answer is clear. Their special interest is not in getting reservation in government jobs, they want Scheduled Caste category reservation for contesting elections from village Panchayats to the Lok Sabha. As they know, they cannot be eligible to contest elections on reserved seats under backward class reservation. If the government accepts Rangnath Mishra Commission recommendations, the convert Christians and Muslims would become eligible to contest on seats reserved for Scheduled Castes. Thus the people of Scheduled Castes would have to share their reservation in government jobs and political fields with convert Christians and Muslims.
 
The demand of including convert Christians in the Scheduled Castes list was, first of all, raised in 1936 after Poona Pact when the first list of Scheduled Castes was published during British period. The British government had rejected this demand saying that "no Indian Christian is entitled to claim Scheduled Caste category". So this demand was finally rejected by the British government.
 
During discussion in the Constituent Assembly, the demand of granting reservation to converts was also raised. But all senior leaders including Dr. Ambedkar, Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sardar Patel, C. Rajagopalachari had rejected the demand saying that no religious follower other than a Hindu can be granted any reservation as so-called Scheduled Castes have been suffering from untouchability  and social discrimination for centuries. Moreover the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru had out rightly rejected the demand of religion-based reservation in his letter addressed to all the Chief Ministers on June 27, 1961.
 
In the year 1996, the then Narsimha Rao Government wanted to include convert Dalit Christians and Muslims into the list of Scheduled Castes through an ordinance before Lok Sabha Elections but the then president Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma had refused to sign the said ordinance. Similarly in 1997, the Devegauda government had wanted to move a Constitution Amendment Bill in Parliament regarding inclusion of coverts in Scheduled Castes. But the Bill could not be moved due to stiff resistance from the opposition parties. Later, the state governments were asked to give their opinion on the Bill and the state governments had opposed it too.
 
The National Scheduled Castes and Tribes Commission under the Chairmanship of Karnataka Congress Leader Shri Hanumanthappa had also rejected the demand of including convert Christians and Muslims in the list of Scheduled Castes. Later, all succeeding Chairmen of the said Commission i.e. Dr. Surajabhan, Shri Bijay Sonkar Shastri and present Chairman Shri Buta Singh had followed same suit.
 
The Supreme Court had clearly opined through its various decisions that convert Dalit Christians and Muslims cannot be equated with Scheduled Castes.
 
The conclusion is that the British government, the Constituent Assembly, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes and the Supreme Court have opined with one voice that the converts should not be granted Scheduled Caste status.
 
You are aware that educational level of Scheduled Castes children remains much lowerer than that of convert Dalit Christians and Muslims. So the children of converts would grab major share of reservation in government jobs. The convert Dalit Christians and Muslims would become eligible to contest election on seats reserved for Scheduled Castes. So the Scheduled Castes would suffer from all angles in all fields. Moreover it would further encourage conversion and fatally destroy the fabric of Indian Society.
 
Indian Constitution completed its 60 years on January 26, 2010 but in spite of long period, the pace of economic, educational and political development and empowerment of Scheduled Castes has been lethargic because the government's schemes could not be implemented properly. Even to-day, this section of society is not getting sufficient benefits of government schemes. Now the population of Scheduled Castes has increased to 18 percent. The Central government instead of raising reservation ratio of the Scheduled Castes, is thinking of giving reservation share to convert Dalit Christians and Muslims out of their 15 percent reservation. It would jeopardize the interests of Scheduled Castes.

    (Shyam Jaju)
    Headquarter Incharge

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