Kochi, Nov 4 (UNI) The All India Scheduled Castes Reservation Protection Forum today announced a nationwide agitation from tomorrow to resist any move by the UPA Government to extend the Scheduled Caste reservation benefit to the converted Muslim and Christian Dalits.
Talking to newspersons here, former Chairman of the National SC/ST Commission Vizay Sonkar Sastry said a delegation of the Forum would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi tomorrow to hand over a memorandum on the issue.
Protest 'dharnas' and marches would also be held at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and in all state capitals and major towns all over the country as part of the agitation tomorrow, Mr Sastry, a former BJP MP, said.
Stating that the demand for reservation for converted Muslims and Christians had been rejected by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, Mr Sastry said successive Governments, since the time of the Britishers also found this untenable.
Even the framers of the Constitution had gone into the issue and decided against reservation for Muslim and Christian converts, he added He said, however, the UPA Government was now giving indications of accepting the demand, as shown by its acceptance of the Ranganath Mishra and Rajendra Sachar Commission reports.
The Prime Minister is conceding the demand of the Christians and Muslims because the Congress was relying on vote-bank politics to retain its power, he alleged.
Stating that the condition of the scheduled castes continued to be pathetic, Dr Sastry said extending the reservation benefit to Muslim and Christian converts would further harm the SC interests, as the minority communities were better placed in terms of education and had powerful and financially strong organisations backing them.
The scheduled castes, on the other hand, have only the 15 per cent reservation mandated by the Constitution to improve their condition, he added.
Pointing out that the UPA Government had in November, 2004, amended the Constitution to keep minority institutions out of the purview of reservation for SC/ST and OBCs, Dr Sastry wondered what was the logic in extending the caste-based reservation benefit to minority groups.
Regretting that even Dalit leaders such as Mayawati and Ram Vilas Paswan were siding with the minority communities on the issue due to their political compulsions, he said only the BJP had opposed this move of the UPA Government.
Appealing to all ''well-meaning people'' to support the agitation being launched by the newly floated All India Scheduled Castes Reservation Protection Forum, Dr Sastry said, ''I wish to warn the political parties that the scheduled castes also have votes and we will mobilise these against them.