The Goa Legislative Assembly has unanimously adopted a private member resolution, moved by ST leader MLA Dr. Ganesh Gaonkar, recommending the government to make provision for political reservation in the Goa Legislative Assembly for the Scheduled Tribes of the state.
The ST community was voicing their demand for political reservation for the last two decades. They have also threatened to boycott the Lok Sabha election 2024 if the reservation is not declared before polls.
However, Sanvordem BJP MLA Ganesh Gaonkar by moving the resolution has given hope to the ST community. Opposition Parties supporting the move have also urged the BJP government to push it before the Central government.
In his resolution Gaonkar stated: “This House strongly recommends the Government to make provision for political reservation in the Goa Legislative Assembly for the Scheduled Tribes of Goa State. As per the census of 2011, Scheduled Tribes (ST) constitute 10.23 per cent of Goa’s population. Th The Goa Legislative Assembly has unanimously adopted a private member resolution, moved by ST leader MLA Dr. Ganesh Gaonkar, recommending the government to make provision for political reservation in the Goa Legislative Assembly for the Scheduled Tribes of the state.
is community deserves to be brought into the mainstream, needs support to make the community more educated as well as empowered and hence needs a larger political representation to achieve the same.”
“I am very much thankful to all the members of Goa Legislative Assembly for unanimously supporting this resolution. I am sure that our Honorable CM Dr. Pramod Sawant and the BJP government at the Centre will make it happen,” Gaonkar, a tall leader of the ST community said after the resolution was adopted.
“Political reservation is the main demand of the ST community. ST were in OBC category since 1968, but during Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2003, Gawada, Kunabi and Velip (three tribes) were declared as Scheduled Tribes by Goa government. Since then this community is fighting for political reservation,” Gaonkar said.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, speaking over the resolution, said that letters in this regard have been sent to the Central government. “We are serious about giving reservation to ST. We will take a delegation to the Home Minister and Law Minister to give representation,” he said.
All the seven MLA of Goa Opposition parties have also supported the resolution as the demand has been pending since the last 20 years.
Leader of Opposition Yuri Alemao said that the ST community has threatened to boycott the Lok Sabha election. “The reservation should come into reality immediately,” he said.
Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai said that a double engine government should make it happen. “There should be clear cut assurance that before the 2024 election reservation should be declared. I support it,” Sardesai said.
Congress MLA Carlos Ferreira said that he supports the reservation to empower the ST community.
Revolutionary Goans Party MLA Viresh and AAP MLA Venzy Viegas also supported the resolution.
Fighting for their rights for the last several years, a section of the Scheduled Tribe community of Goa has threatened to boycott the Lok Sabha election 2024, if the government fails to provide them political reservation in the state assembly.
United under the banner of the ‘Mission Political Reservation for Scheduled Tribe of Goa’ (MPRSTG), many ST youths have dedicated themselves to achieving the goal.
Knowing the seriousness of the issue, many non-ST politicians have also supported the movement and have drawn the attention of the government by submitting memorandums in the past.
Speaking to IANS, MPRSTG president Joao Fernandes said that he welcomes the resolution moved by MLA Ganesh Gaonkar, however the State government will have to pursue the matter with the Centre. “Ball is in the court of the central government, hence our government should take up the issue and make it happen before the 2024 Lok Sabha election,” he said.
“Our demand is that we should get the political reservation before the Lok Sabha election,” Fernandes said.
In the past ST community took out rallies and tried to draw the attention of the government. According to them, there are around 1.30 lakh ST voters in Goa and hence they should be given political reservation.
In May, the MPRSTG members held a meeting at Lohia Maidan in Margao and resolved to boycott the Lok Sabha election in 2024 if their demand for political reservation was not conceded by the government. The ST leaders had also held a daylong hunger strike at Lohia Maidan.
They highlighted the importance of political reservation for the STs of Goa, which the state government has failed to fulfil despite the community getting the ST status decades ago.
According to them, if the political reservation is granted, there will be four legislators in the Assembly by default.
Currently there are four ST MLAs in the Assembly, including Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar.