New Delhi, Feb 9, 2019: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Office for Scheduled Caste/BC (Dalits and Backward Classes) has welcomed the Andhra Pradesh’s bill to accord Scheduled Caste (SC) status to Dalit Christians.
Already some of the states have passed the same resolution in their assemblies. The resent one was by the Pondicherry assembly. Already the United Andhra Pradesh Assembly passed the resolution on Feb 7.
“Passing of the resolution in the assemblies to include Dalit Christians in the SC list is a sign that the State Governments support the move to include the Dalit Christians in the SC list. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh and his allies of other regional parties will play a great role in the formation of the next Central Government,” Father Devasagayaraj M Zackarias, national secretary of CBCI Office for SC /BC told Matters India.
This gives a great hope to the Dalit Christians that the long pending rightful demand to be included in the SC list will become a reality.
“After the 10 % reservation to the economically weaker sections we are sure that many political parties will support this move. We are happy that even the Andhra Pradesh state level Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supports the resolution to include Dalit Christians in the SC list which shows that they also begin to understand the plight of the Dalit Christians since they are not included in the SC list,” Father Zackarias said.
The presidential Order of 1950 prohibits the educational and employment provisions or reservations to Dalit Christians and Muslims in the country. Ever since, the Indian Church has been making concerted efforts to lobby and demand with the various federal governments and political parties that the needed reserverations must be extended to Dalit Christians and Muslims with a policy change at the parliament. However, it has failed deaf ears ever since.
In her reaction to the news of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Naidu’s move to recommend to the Center granting SC status to Dalit Christians, Father Joseph Arlagadda, deputy secretary of the Telugu Catholic Bishops’ Council, said, “On Feb 7, CM Naidu said that he will pursue the resolution and send it to Central Government.”
In fact, it is not new. Late Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy (1949 – 2009), a two-time Chief Minister of the Andhra Pradesh, has already passed a resolution while in united Andhra Pradesh and sent to central Government in 2009 itself, he said.
“The Christian are skeptical whether Naidu wins the next election, even if he wins he is not to be trusted. He has been CM for for and half years but never thought about. It is an election stunt. It is not enough that Naidu gimmicks about Christians,” Father Arlagadda added.
Father Lourduraj Ignacimuthu SJ, Head, Department of Visual Communication, Andhra Loyola College, Vijayawada also carefully reacted to the Naidu’s move.
“This seems to be a political decision by Naidu. We hear this refrain from many Christians. However, the Dalit Christians should feel happy with the bill coming up. Legal wrangles will be there for sure. Even if Naidu were to lose YSR Congress Party may pursue with the bill as YSRC is seen as a party supporting Dalit Christians,” Father Ignacimuthu said.
“The BJP will try to whip up anti-Christian feeling ahead of the coming general elections in May pointing out that Christians will take the cake from Hindu Dalits. Dalits do not believe that they are Hindus in first place. So this bill will surely make the political pot boiling,” he added.