NDA gearing up to grant ST status to six communities

Assam 2016 after Bihar FIASCO

Direct talks with ULFA soon, will move apex court against AFSPA in Garo Hills, says Rijiju


NEW DELHI, Nov 10: The Centre is likely to grant ST status to six communities of Assam before the Assembly election early next year.

Disclosing this here on Tuesday, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said that the file related to granting ST status to six communities in Assam is now with the Prime Minister.

“After his approval, the proposal will be placed before the Union Cabinet and then the Parliament… This will be done before the next year’s assembly elections in Assam,” said Rijiju.

The Bill for granting ST status is likely to be passed either in the winter session of Parliament or before the budget session next year.

The Assembly polls in Assam are scheduled to take place in May.

Granting ST status to Moran, Muttock, Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbangsi, Chutia and Tea Tribes has been a long-standing demand by the six ethnic communities, with their joint forum recently warning the NDA government of ‘consequences’ in the forthcoming assembly elections. 

After the negative fallout in Bihar following the comment by RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat about the need to ‘review reservations’, which has been attributed to OBCs and dalits deserting the NDA in the elections, the BJP appears to be keen to secure the backing of the six ethnic communities — so as to build a strong base in Upper Assam and take on the Congress.

The granting of ST status to the six communities is also a pre-condition set by the Arabinda Rajkhowa-led pro-talk faction of the ULFA. “We (Central government) will soon start direct talks with the ULFA to bring about a lasting solution to the nearly four decade old insurgency problem in Assam,” Rijiju said.

The minister further said that his ministry will soon begin parleys with the All Assam Students Union (AASU) to review progress of the implementation of the Assam Accord, signed in 1985.

Meanwhile, Rijiju said that the Union government will file a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Meghalaya High Court’s direction to the Centre to enforce AFSPA in Garo Hills. He said that the Centre in principle believes that AFSPA will not solve the problem in Garo Hills, rather the government considers it a temporary measure to maintain law and order situation.

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