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Tribal leaders warn to work against BJP in upcoming Lok Sabha polls

Panaji, Mar 10 (PTI) Tribal leaders who were on a hunger strike over a demand for reservation for Scheduled Tribes (ST) in assembly constituencies withdrew their agitation on Sunday, warning that they will work against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Panaji, Mar 10 (PTI) Tribal leaders who were on a hunger strike over a demand for reservation for Scheduled Tribes (ST) in assembly constituencies withdrew their agitation on Sunday, warning that they will work against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Community leaders under the banner of GAKUVED (Gauda, Kunbi, Velip, Danger) had been on a hunger strike in Panaji since March 6.

Talking to reporters, one of the leaders, Rupesh Velip, said they were withdrawing the protest but have resolved to work against the BJP in the upcoming elections.

'After a detailed discussion, it was decided that awareness will be created among the tribal community in 300 plus villages of Goa about how the government has failed to fulfil their demands,' Velip said.

If the Union government fails to issue a notification regarding ST reservation in the assembly before the Lok Sabha election, the community would ensure 'electoral damage' to the ruling party, he said.

The central cabinet on Thursday gave its nod to the ‘Readjustment of Representation of Scheduled Tribes Bill, 2024’, which will empower the census commissioner to notify the population of STs in Goa.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had said this would pave the way for political reservation in the legislative assembly before the 2027 state elections.

Velip alleged that the Centre’s move was an 'election tactic and a dilution of the straightforward legal process'.

'The proposed bill follows a time-consuming path, including approval by the Parliament, census data notification, and delimitation commission proceedings,' he said.

This raised concerns about achieving reservation for the 2027 assembly elections, Velip said.

He further claimed that the state government has 'betrayed tribals' by denying their rights, including the utilisation of tribal funds, job vacancies, pending tenancy cases, unfulfilled forest rights claims, and a lack of basic facilities in tribal areas.

'The community is distressed by the delay in addressing their demands, ranging from support prices for cashew crops to quality education, scholarships, agricultural facilities, and self-employment opportunities,' Velip said. PTI RPS ARU

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