BJP MLAs belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) categories skipped a meeting of SC and ST MLAs across party lines convened by two Congress MLAs to press for a legislation to prevent alleged diversion of funds meant for people from such communities. Meanwhile, Ishwar Parmar and Ganpat Vasava, cabinet ministers and the Dalit and tribal faces of the Vijay Rupani government, said that the two communities had prospered under BJP rule and there was no need for such a legislation. They also alleged that Congress was doing such gimmicks for publicity. The MLAs’ meeting was convened by Congress MLAs Naushad Solanki and Anil Joshiyara. They have been alleging that the state government never allotted money in proportion to the population of the two communities under the SC Sub-Plan and ST Sub-Plan, and the allotted money was spent on projects that did not directly benefit the two communities. Solanki had moved a private member’s Bill in the previous session of the Gujarat Assembly but it was not taken up for discussion.
There are a total of 13 SC MLAs and 27 ST MLAs in the Gujarat Assembly. Of them, 20 MLAs — five SC and 15 ST — are with the Congress and the remaining with the ruling BJP.
Solanki said, “We organised the meeting going beyond party lines for the betterment of the two communities. Unfortunately, none of the BJP MLAs turned up. Now we will take up the issue of a special legislation – SC/ST Sub-Plan Act – to ensure allotment and usage of special funds for the two communities in the form of a campaign.”
Addressing a press conference, Forest and Tribal Minister Ganpat Vasava and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Ishwar Parmar denied the allegations of the Congress MLAs. “The Gujarat government is committed to thorough development of the two communities. The Congress is doing all this in utter disappointment,” said the two ministers in a press statement.
They categorically denied the allegations that budget allocation was not being done in proportion to the population of SCs and STs, and added that it has been increasing during the BJP regime in comparison to previous Congress governments in the state.