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Centre seat relief for tribals

Ranchi, Sept. 3: The Centre, claimed a group of tribal leaders, said that there would be no reduction of either parliamentary or Assembly seats reserved for Schedule Tribes (ST) in the state.

A special panel headed by the Union law secretary has advised the Centre that it should not curtail the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats for tribals in the state.

The panel, appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh following severe protests in the state from tribal leaders and groups, has already submitted its recommendations to the Union government.

The panel’s recommendations assume significance since the Delimitation Commission had recommended reduction of reserved seats for tribals for Assembly from 28 to 21 and Lok Sabha seats from six to five.

The commission, headed by Justice (retd) Kuldip Singh, recommended the reduction of seats for tribals in Jharkhand on the basis of figure of 2001 census report. But the tribal groups challenged the recommendations raising questions that the census was not carried out in a proper manner. Several tribal areas in remote parts of the state were not counted during the census.

Recently, tribal groups organised statewide bandh against the recommendations and they have threatened to start an indefinite economic blockade if the Centre fails to protect the interests of tribals.

Three tribal MPs, headed by Shibu Soren, today called on Pranab Mukherjee at Delhi and discussed the issue. The other two MPs were Rameshwar Oraon and Hemlal Murmu. Two local tribal leaders, Dev Kumar Dhan and Ratan Tirkey, were also in that group.

Mukherjee heads the group of ministers in the Union government that looks after different political issues plaguing various states. He is also the chairman of the special AICC committee that is looking into the delimitation issue. “Mukherjee assured us that the Centre would not reduce the reserved seats for tribals either for the Lok Sabha or the Assembly,” claimed both Oraon and Mumru.

In fact, they added, the external affairs minister was in possession of the report that the law secretary had submitted to the Centre on the delimitation issue. Mukherjee said that the recommendation of the law secretary is against reduction of the seats for tribals in the state.

“The Centre will not take any decision that would hurt the sentiments and feelings of the ethnic and tribal groups,” Murmu said quoting Mukherjee.

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