Tamil Nadu assembly resolution favours SC benefits to Christian converts
The Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed a resolution urging the central government to extend benefits given to Scheduled Castes to Dalit Christians. The resolution was proposed by Chief Minister M K Stalin, and was passed despite opposition from the BJP. The resolution called for the Constitution to be amended, providing reservation benefits in education and employment to Dalit Christians.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Wednesday passed a resolution urging the Centre to extend the benefits accorded to Scheduled Castes also to those among the SCs embracing Christianity.
The resolution piloted by Chief Minister M K Stalin that was adopted amidst protest and walkout by the BJP, called upon the central government to amend the Constitution to provide the reservation benefits in education and employment to Dalit Christians.
Moving the resolution seeking to extend the reservation now being availed by the SC to those from this caste converted to Christianity, Stalin said the privileges being enjoyed by the Adi Dravidars should not be denied following their conversion to Christianity.
“They would be socially uplifted if reservation benefits are extended to them in education and employment. Denying them all the benefits merely because they have converted to another religion is not fair. This is our stand,” Stalin said. He contended that people have a right to follow the religion of their choice but distinguishing them on the basis of caste is social evil.
Referring to the three-member commission under K G Balakrishnan in October 2022, to consider the possibility of granting SC status to new persons who have historically belonged to the community but have converted to religions other than Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, Stalin said the Centre could amend the constitution paving way for extension of reservation after receipt of the report from the commission.
The commission is expected to submit its report to the government in two years.
Speaker M Appavu expunged her remarks and cautioned that there was no need for her to attribute ulterior motive.
“The Chief Minister has every right to move the resolution. You may express your views to say whether you accept it or not,” the Speaker said.
“This august House urges the government of India to make necessary amendments to the Constitution to extend statutory protection, rights and concessions including reservation as provided to the people belonging to SC under the Indian Constitution, also to the SCs who have converted to Christianity, so as to enable them to avail the benefits of social justice in all aspects,” the resolution read.
Opposing the resolution, BJP legislator Vanathi Srinivasan questioned the basis of bringing such a resolution, especially after the Centre has constituted a commission on the issue.
Both factions of the Opposition AIADMKunder K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam, respectively, favoured the resolution while the BJP staged a walk out. Later, speaking to reporters outside the Assembly Vanathi Srinivasan said the Assembly resolution was “against the constitution,” as already a writ has been filed in the Supreme Court. The case has been posted to July for hearing, she claimed.
“The BJP wants to know why this resolution was brought when the Centre has already constituted a commission and the case is in the court. Does this resolution indirectly admit that untouchability exists in Christian and Muslim religions despite the conversions?” she asked.
The Coimbatore South MLA, who is BJP Mahila Morcha’s national president claimed that the DMK government had brought this resolution for political reasons.
“The resolution is a mere eye wash as the government appears to be unconcerned over the issues concerning the SCs like the Vengaivayal issue, Panchami land retrieval and honour killings. Even to this day, the SCs have no common graveyard. So, we walked out opposing the resolution,” Srinivasan said.
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