Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday directed the Congress MPs from the state to fight in Parliament to ensure that the SC/ST Act is not diluted, while asserting his government’s commitment to implementing the 85th amendment to the Constitution for the benefit of the Dalit community.Expressing concern about the dilution of the SC/ST Act, the Chief Minister said the Congress would strive to restore the powers given to the Dalits under it.Recalling that he had implemented the 85th amendment during his previous tenure, the Chief Minister pointed out that his government had enacted the Punjab Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006, providing for reservation in promotions in Government jobs.He lashed out at the Akalis for putting the legislation in cold storage during their regime, and asserted that he would ensure its implementation while fulfilling the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had struck down the provisions providing for accelerated reservations in promotions due to certain administrative shortcomings.Asserting his government’s commitment to safeguarding the interests of the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, Captain Amarinder assured that his government would take all necessary steps to restore the legal position in the matter.Addressing a state-level function here to mark Dr. BR Ambedkar’s 127th birth anniversary, the Chief Minister paid glowing tributes to the great social reformer, describing him as a far-sighted man who could visualize the future and drafted the Constitution accordingly.
Lauding Dr Ambedkar’s role in promoting the welfare of the Dalits, Captain Amarinder said he was hand-picked by India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru for his extensive knowledge.In his address, Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said that had the Akalis accepted the request of Dr Ambedkar back in 1936 to allow the conversion of Dalits into Sikhs, the entire community would have been holding the reins of powers today in the country. Lambasting the Akalis for their anti-Dalit policies, he said the Congress and Captain Amarinder Singh were the only hope to rescue the Dalit samaj from their miseries.Social Welfare Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot also blasted the Akalis over their failure to do anything for the welfare of the community. In fact, after looting the state left, right and centre, they were now trying to undermine the Congress government’s initiatives, such as loan waiver, for uplift of the underprivileged and the farmers, he added.Higher Education Minister Aruna Chaudhary was vocal in her appreciation of Dr Ambedkar’s role in promoting the welfare of the Dalit community.Punjab Congress president and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar appreciated Captain Amarinder’s efforts to uplift the Dalit community, saying the Chief Minister understood their pain and had announced the waiver of their loans up to Rs 50000 for this reason. He lashed out at the BJP-led government at the Centre for dividing the country on communal and caste lines, pointing out that under their rule, Dr Ambedkar’s statues were being desecrated and defiled around the country.
The BJP was destroying India’s social fabric, he added.He also flayed what the Centre had done to undermine the Dalit power by diluting the SC/ST Act. What was more, the Centre owed Rs 1,100 core to Punjab in connection with the post-matric scholarship scheme for Scheduled Caste students, he added.Santokh Singh, MP, lashed out at the BJP for trying to divide the vision of Dr Ambedkar, pointing out that the Prime Minister had always maintained a studious silence on the various incidents of atrocities against Dalits under the NDA regime. The central government’s remote control was with the RSS, which was brazenly creating divisions in the society, he added. Captain Amarinder, he said, had always fought for the rights of the Dalit Samaj, which constituted 32% of the state’s population.Raj Kumar Verka, MLA, also flayed the BJP for spreading venom through their communal and casteist policies.Others present on the occasion included Media Advisor to CM, Raveen Thukral, along with OSD Gurpreet Singh Sonu Dhesi, MLAs Rana Gurjit Singh, Pargat Singh, Rajinder Beri, Sushil Kumar Rinku, Dr. Raj Kumar Chabbewal, Bawa Henry, Chaudhary Surinder Singh, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Santokh Singh Bhalaipur, Chairman Markfed Amarjit Singh Samra, Former Minister Avtar Henry, Joginder Singh Mann, Sarwan Singh Phillaur, Brij Bhupinder Singh Kang, Mohinder Singh Kaypee and ex-MLA Jagbir Singh Brar.