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Thu, 20 Sep 2018

Northeast Today

Politics of Reservation

Politics of Reservation
May 11
14:57 2018

April Edition, NET Bureau, Sayantani Deb

Post a brief halt, the issue of Limboo-Tamang reservation in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly has again popped its head up in the state. This came to the fore after Sikkim Governor N Shrinivas Patil urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government for reservation of seats in the Assembly for Limboo and Tamang communities. According to the Governor, both the communities constitute a sizeable population of the Himalayan state.

First Words

Since January 4, 2016, Sikkim has been engaged in intense political turmoil after Supreme Court disposed of a writ petition filed by former Sikkim BJP chief Hari Ram Pradhan. The Apex court in its order instructed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to find a permanent solution to the long pending issue of Limboo-Tamang seat reservation in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly. The Limboo and Tamang communities constitute nearly 33 percent of the state’s population.

Brief History

The Limboo-Tamang (LT) communities were included in the union list of Scheduled Tribes under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Orders (Amendment) Act 2002, (No.10 of 2003) published on 8 January 2003.

Under Article 332 of the Constitution of India, the Scheduled Tribes are entitled to a political right to contest state assembly elections from their allotted reserved seats. However, despite being granted the Schedule Tribe status by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee- led NDA government, the Limbu-Tamang communities are still denied this right.

Interestingly, after granting ST status to LT community the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) had included seat reservation issue in every election manifesto however till now nothing has been done in this regard.

Sikkim Reservation

Governor’s Version

“Reservation to Limboo-Tamang is one of the long pending and pressing issues of Sikkim and it requires expeditious resolution by the Central government,” said Governor N Shrinivas Patil while addressing his customary speech during a week-long budget session.

“This warrants serious attention in a time-bound manner as this problem has potential to adversely affect the prevailing peace and tranquillity in the most peaceful state of the nation,” Patil cautioned.

Opposition Voices-Out

While clarifying their stand, Navraj Gurung, General Secretary (Social Media) Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) said, “The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha is demanding reservations for the Limboo Tamang community in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, as the party feels it is the right of these communities assigned to them by the constitution of India.”

“Till date, in this regard, we have submitted various memorandums to the Central government via Prime Minister’s Office, Union Home Minister and Union Tribal Minister. Also, the party has staged a dharna in Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, to press for the demand of seat reservation for LT community in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.”

According to Gurung, SKM feels the reason for the delay of reservation of Limboo-Tamang community is because of the incompetence of the ruling party in taking up the issue with the Central government.

“The ruling party under the leadership of Pawan Chamling has failed to convince Union government on the issue of seat reservation for the LT community in the SLA,” he alleged, adding, “It is evident that the ruling party is not serious about the demand and as till date not a single all-party delegation has been led to apprise the central leadership on the seat reservation issue.”

“Besides, till now the state government has not been able to decide on the number of seats in the SLA, with the government proposing to increase the seats to 40 seats and sometimes bringing down to 38 seats is also one reason for the delay of seat reservation for the LT community in SLA,” he informed.

Speaking on the same line, Manil Rai General Secretary (Social Media) of Sikkim Republican Party (SRP) said, “In 2002 Limboo and Tamang from Gorkha community were declared as Scheduled Tribes however even after 16 years they have been denied their legitimate reserved seats in Sikkim legislative assembly.”

He further added that the main reason behind this delay is the disproportionate reservation of seats to Bhutia, Lepcha community.

“In Sikkim, there are 32 seats out of which 31 of them are constituencies and 1 seat has been provided to Buddhist Lamas as Sangha seats where only Buddhist Lamas of Bhutia origin can contest. Apparently, out of 32 seats, 13 seats are provided to two tribal groups—Bhutia and Lepcha. These communities particularly the Bhutias are the ruling class,” he informed, adding, “This disproportionate seat reservation vide RP(Amend ) Act 1980 which was previously an ordinance by the President in 1980 as in 1980 the President through ordinance conducted elections in Sikkim and reservation was such that 18.4 percent minority people were given 41 percent seat reservation,” informed Rai.

“Sikkim is the only state where a seat is reserved on the basis of caste,” he stated.

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