Congress MLAs belonging to the Scheduled Castes on Friday met new Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and rued that the state government was yet to implement the 85th Amendment in the Constitution and that they were inadequately represented in the boards, corporations, societies, and commissions in Punjab.
The MLAs met the PPCC chief at Congress Bhawan in Chandigarh, where Sidhu had called them for a meeting. The MLAs, during the meeting, raised concerns that the Congress government in Punjab had promised umpteen times that the 85th Amendment providing reservation in promotions to SCs would be implemented, but nothing was done about it.
They are also learned to have told Sidhu that of the 72 boards, corporations, and societies in the state, only three were headed by SCs. Similarly of the 20 commissions, only three were headed by SCs.
Sidhu, after hearing their grievances, apparently promised the MLAs that he will take up the issue with the government and get it resolved positively at the earliest.
A statement by Sidhu later said that he had met the SC MLAs and had a two-hour-long discussion with them. He said that the meeting created consensus on the policies and programmes for benefit of the community while emphasizing that every problem faced by the Dalits must be resolved on a priority basis. Pradesh Congress Committee working president, Sukwinder Singh Danny, and the state leadership decided to meet again next week for further discussions on the party’s vision for the Dalits of Punjab.
Sidhu later also met Congress workers from Mohali, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Malerkotla. A number of workers are learned to have told Sidhu that they were not heard by anyone and no meeting had taken place in the past. Sidhu’s statements said he spent hours listening to every grievance and suggestion from Congress workers of each district with PCC working president Kuljit Singh Nagra.
Later in the day, as a part of his contact programme, Sidhu also paid a visit to Cabinet Minister, Razia Sultana, and her retired DGP husband, Mohd Mustafa, at their house. Mustafa was considered close to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh till two years ago till the time Dinkar Gupta, the incumbent DGP, was appointed superseding Mustafa. Ever since then, Mustafa has been upset with the CM.