Jesudasu Seelam

Congress MP (Rajya Sabha), Andhra Pradesh

I would like Social Watch to include one more parameter for judging parliamentarians, because the nature of the issues raised is also important. So, you have inclusive growth but where is the equity?
There are 164 SC/ST MPs cutting across party lines. And our concern is equity. Though the Congress party’s interest is the utmost for me, I am also equally interested in safeguarding the legitimate interest of the community and I have a right, responsibility to protect that, to see that they are not put to any further disadvantage within the framework of the constitution and by various interventions, both inside and outside parliament.
Till today, we feel that we have to work 200 percent to get at least 50 percent marks. There is what is called a bias in terms of perception, in terms of reporting, in terms of assessing, but we believe that given an opportunity we are second to none.
Every time a new legislation comes, we have to be very watchful whether the interest already accrued to this community are being taken away because you are forgetting 99.9 percent of the community is still suffering, still fighting for an honourable living. That is the situation after 60 years (of independence).

In this country, reservations are through executive orders, there is no law. The supreme court or the high courts, they interpret the law, give different directions. Whenever there is a little adverse observation by the SC or HC, the authorities immediately implement what is disadvantageous to the scheduled castes or scheduled tribes. When there is a positive judgement, they will go and lobby.
That is why the Lokpal bill should be called Samajik Nyaya Lokpal Bill. Anybody taking away the right or causing any loss (to the disadvantaged groups) should also be called corrupt. The acts of omission leading to maladministration should also be part of corruption. Anna’s team should include the delay in justice causing torture as corruption. Denial or non-spending of the money allotted for development of SC/ST is also corruption. Diversion of funds meant for SC/ST development is also corruption.

In August 2008, a bill was passed in parliament, without discussion. That bill was to codify the provisions of reservation existing in this country through executive orders, because everyone interprets differently, so we don’t want that. We want all the executive orders in the form of a law called Reservation Act for providing reservation for SC/ST in the government. This bill was passed in Rajya Sabha without discussion. Then it went to the Lok Sabha during UPA I. The Lok Sabha went through clause 4 of that bill which says notwithstanding anything contained in this bill, the following will not have any reservation. In the Reservation Act, there is a provision for de-reservation.

And that de-reservation deals with the institutes of national importance as annexured in the schedule. And 47 institutes were listed saying the reservation of faculty will not apply in this category. And all these 47 institutes have reservation as of today. But then the Lok Sabha said that we don’t agree. Then we met the prime minister, Pranab Mukherjee and Sonia Gandhi, and she was very angry and asked why this provision was included.
There are 19 points of controversy in the bill but we don’t bother little injury here and there. We said please remove that clause 4. Till today, that bill has not been passed. Reservations continue on the basis of executive orders.

The Indian system of parliament encompasses all interests, all communities, diverse things are handled in a very efficient and able manner. We are trying to improve. Things are improving, they are looking good.

Press must give importance to the equity issue. Without equity, growth has no meaning to me.


Other Speakers

  • Nilotpal Basu
  • Jesudasu Seelam
  • Nirmala Sitharaman

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