Shimla: Despite empty opposition benches, there were some anxious moments in the Vidhan Sabha as Ram Lal Markandey, a BJP legislator from Lahaul-Spiti, did not withdraw a private member bill at the first go that sought to increase job reservation in scheduled tribe quota, even though chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal asked the member to do so after making a detailed response.
Markandey had moved a resolution for asking the state government to make a request to the central government for increasing reservation and budget allocation for schedule tribe category in proportion to their population in the state, especially after the Gaddi and Gujjar people of Kangra were also accorded the tribe status in 2003.
In response to the short debate, the chief minister said that Gaddis and Gujjarâ€™s in other parts of the state held scheduled tribe status but those in Kangra were denied this status as this area was merged with the state after the 1966 Punjab Re-organisation Act.
Even after including the new scheduled tribe people who numbered 96,202 and the old one who are 2,60,575 the total population of STs stands at 3,56,777 and constitutes 5.87 percent of the states population.
The government was already giving 9 percent budget allocation to scheduled tribe areas and was providing 7.5% reservation in jobs for the category, said Dhumal while asking the member to withdraw the resolution.
However, Markanday stood his ground and said that he had only stressed upon two points and there was no harm if the chief minister asked the central government to increase the job reservation quota for ST category.
Despite deputy speaker Rikhi Ram Kaundal categorically asking twice whether the member intended to withdraw the resolution, the member tried to get an assurance from the chief minister for it.
The chief minister responded that in Kinnaur, 60 % jobs were reserved for ST and 25 for SCâ€™s and in Lauhal Spiti 78 % were reserved for STs and 7 % for SCâ€™s.
It was only after that that Markandey withdrew the resolution but not before he had other ruling party member raise eyebrows over the defiant stand taken.