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Razi pleads seat freeze

Ranchi, June 12: Governor Syed Sibtey Razi today called on the President and the Union law minister and pleaded for a review of the proposals finalised by the Delimitation Commission. The commissionís proposal to reduce tribal reserved seats in Assembly from 28 to 21 could give rise to tribal unrest, he informed them.

The state, he said, has limped back to normality after the commission postponed its visit last week. But unless steps are taken, it could lead to a law and order problem.

The governor pleaded for clubbing Jharkhand with the Sixth Schedule states like Tripura, where the number of tribal seats have been frozen till 2026. A recommendation to this effect was made by the Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) which met at Dumka in January. It requires serious and urgent attention by the union government, Razi said. Jharkhand is included in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, which covers 12 of the 22 districts.

In his half-an-hour meeting with the President, the governor apprised him of the anger among tribal groups over the gradual reduction of seats reserved for tribals.

Amit Khare, principal secretary to the governor, said Razi pointed out that the seats reserved for the ST were 32 in 1951 but were reduced to 28 in 1971. If it goes down further to 21 now, the situation could turn out to be explosive.

The governor also pleaded for increasing the strength of the Jharkhand Assembly from 81 to 125. The state is sparsely populated and large areas are under forests. Therefore, the governor argued, the criteria of 3.22 lakh population per Assembly constituency should be relaxed to 1.5 lakh people in the case of Jharkhand. This, too, was a resolution adopted by the TAC earlier.

Razi met union law minister H.R. Bharadwaj and discussed legal issues related to the problem. He is scheduled to meet Union home minister Shivraj Patil tomorrow. Khare said the governor had met the President, Prime Minister and other constitutional functionaries in January with two issues. First, the inclusion of the urban areas like Ranchi under Scheduled Areas. Second, he had pleaded to maintain the status quo over tribal seats.

Khare said the first issue has been resolved, as it is to be done through an executive order. The second issue requires constitutional amendment and other states covered by the Fifth Schedule are also needed to be consulted.

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