Madhya Pradesh polls: Anti-quota group announces it will contest all 230 seats, turns up heat on BJP and Congress

Bhopal: The Samanya Pichda Evam Alpsankhyak Varg Adhikari Karamchari Sangh (SAPAKS) —an organisation of government employees and officers — may play the role of a spoiler to the big boys (the BJP and the Congress) — in the upcoming Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls. The organisation has announced it will contest all 230 seats in the upcoming polls, a decision which could upset the apple cart, especially for the BJP, which is facing anti-incumbency after three straight terms.

 Madhya Pradesh polls: Anti-quota group announces it will contest all 230 seats, turns up heat on BJP and Congress

Representational image. PTI

It has also called for a nationwide bandh (along with other social organisations) on 6 September to protest against the Supreme Court order amending the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (POA) Act, and reservation with regard to promotions. It is also planning a massive convention in Bhopal on 30 September to protest the changes to the Act.

SAPAKS leader Abhishek Soni said, “The party's agenda is three-fold: Reservation on the basis of financial status, abolition of reservation in promotions and taking back the amendments made to the SC/ST Act. The other issues will be included in the manifesto which will be released in last week of September.”

‘POA misused multiple times’

Some of the important amendments the apex court made to the Act state that an initial inquiry need not take place before an FIR is registered against the accused, and the officer in-charge need not take prior permission from a higher officer for arresting the accused. Additionally, only the procedure prescribed by the Act needs to be followed, while Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure will not apply in these cases.

SAPAKS leaders accused the government of adopting a callous attitude towards its people by supporting the amendments to the Act, and state that these amendments have been misused on multiple occasions in Madhya Pradesh.

“We are opposing the Act to safeguard the rights of the individual. In recent times, large groups have gathered at various rallies and protests (for these issues), which provided us a boost to fight elections. Also, what is the need of reservation in promotion? It has been abolished in other states, and should be abolished in Madhya Pradesh too. After Madhya Pradesh High Court quashed the reservation for promotion, the state government went to Supreme Court just to make employees in the state suffer,” the leaders claimed.

When questioned about the government’s stance, a government officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity stated, “It’s high time that reservation in promotion be abolished. It has become a curse for various employees and officers of Madhya Pradesh. Thousands of employees and officers in the state have retired without a promotion.”

KD Sonakia, a retired DSP based in Gwalior, said, “I strongly oppose reservation in promotion, [as] it creates an inferiority complex in some officers and a superiority complex in others. It must be reviewed at the earliest”. Sonakia alleged that during his tenure as DSP, he saw multiple cases of the Act being misused. “In my opinion, one of four cases lodged under the Act are bogus. There is massive anger on all these issues in Madhya Pradesh.”

SC/ST activists come out against protests

SC/ST activists say they are vehemently opposed to such protests. The Gondwana Gantantra Party, which enjoys a massive support base in Madhya Pradesh's Mahakaushal region, has taken a clear stand. Party convener Gulzar Singh Markam said, “We are opposing all these protests rallies and the call for nationwide bandh against the constitutional amendment. We will protest in Bhopal today.”

Along with the SAPAKS, various social organisations such as the Karni Sena, Jat Mahasabha, Parshuram Sena, Vaish Samaj, Kshatriya Mahasabha and others have mobilised youth for rallies. Gwalior and Chambal have become the epicenter of anti-reservation dispute: on 2 April, during the Dalit Mahabandh, eight died in violent clashes. Section 144 has been imposed in Gwalior, Bhind, Shivpuri, Guna and Ashok Nagar districts ahead of the 6 September protest. It is estimated that around 150 organisations from upper castes and OBC groups will participate in the protest.

During Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Jan Ashirwad Yatra in Sidhi district, people from upper caste groups raised slogans about abolishing reservation in promotions. Similarly, SAPAKS and similar social organisations targeted various political leaders, including Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath of the Congress, and Union minister MJ Akbar for supporting the amendments to the POA Act.

The authors are members of 101Reporters

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Updated Date: Sep 05, 2018 18:06:01 IST