Andhra BJP leaders want Governor to rescind resolution on SC status to Dalit Christians, threaten statewide stir

Several petitions are pending before the Supreme Court seeking reservation benefits for Dalits who converted to Christianity or Islam.

BySNV Sudhir

Published Mar 28, 2023 | 2:42 AM Updated Mar 28, 2023 | 2:43 AM

BJP leaders in Andhra Pradesh protest against the state government for giving reservation to Dalit Christians. (Supplied)

BJP leaders in Andhra Pradesh are fuming and want Governor S Abdul Nazeer to rescind a resolution passed by the Andhra Pradesh government in the state Assembly recently.

The resolution urges the Centre to provide Scheduled Caste (SC) status to Dalit Christians — those belonging to SCs but converted to Christianity.

As of now, the benefits of reservation are available only to Dalit Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs.

Several petitions are pending before the Supreme Court seeking reservation benefits for Dalits who converted to Christianity or Islam.

Related: AP Assembly wants SC status for Dalit Christians

The BJP stand

BJP leaders on Monday evening met the Governor and urged him to use his discretionary powers to rescind the resolution. They said it encouraged communal politics and aided conversions.

In the morning, they also staged a protest in Vijayawada demanding that the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government roll back the resolution.

They also threatened to launch and intensify statewide protests until the government rolled back the resolution.

BJP state SC Morcha president Gudise Devanand said at the protest that such inclusion would jeopardise the interests of “real” Dalits, who would lose a portion of the reservation.

He also said that it was nothing but caste-based vote-bank politics unleashed by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy as the Assembly elections were approaching.

BJP state president Somu Veerraju said such a move only encourages conversions. He also questioned the need to introduce such resolutions when the issue was being heard by the Supreme Court.

He also said voters belonging to all faiths and religions had voted for Jagan, who bagged 151 seats. However, he was only benefitting Christians after he came to power, said Veerraju.

He also said that the state government was misusing or diverting the SC Sub Plan funds for other purposes.

He said such a resolution was against the spirit of the Constitution, and its only aim was to create a rift among castes.

Veerraju also said that it would only encourage communal politics.

Also read: Jagan caught between Kapus and OBCs

The history

The Central government in October last year notified a commission under former Chief Justice of India and former chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) KG Balakrishnan to examine the matter of according SC status to new persons who claim to historically have belonged to the Scheduled Castes, but have converted to religions other than those mentioned in the Presidential Orders issued from time to time under Article 341 of the Constitution.

Speaking on the resolution that was introduced in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly urging the Centre to accord SC status to Dalit Christians, Jagan said that the economic and social status of the people don’t change automatically just because they convert to another religion.