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Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today told Congress MPs from the state to fight in Parliament to ensure that the SC/ST Act is not diluted, while asserting his government's commitment to implementing the 85th amendment to the Constitution for the benefit of the Dalit community.
Recalling that he had implemented the 85th amendment during his previous term in office, he pointed out that his government had enacted the Punjab Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006, providing for reservation in promotions in government jobs.
He lashed out at the Akalis for putting the legislation in cold storage during their regime, and asserted that he would ensure its implementation while fulfilling the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had struck down the provisions providing for accelerated reservations in promotions due to certain administrative shortcomings.
Asserting his government's commitment to safeguarding the interests of the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, Amarinder assured that his government would take all necessary steps to restore the legal position in the matter.
Addressing a state-level function here to mark B R Ambedkar's 127th birth anniversary, the chief minister paid glowing tributes to the social reformer, describing him as a far-sighted man who could visualise the future and who drafted the Constitution accordingly.
In his address, Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said that had the Akalis accepted the request of Ambedkar back in 1936 to allow the conversion of Dalits into Sikhs, the entire community would have been holding the reins of powers today in the country.
Punjab Congress president and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar appreciated Amarinder's efforts to uplift the Dalit community, saying the chief minister had announced the waiver of their loans up to Rs 50,000 for this reason.
He lashed out at the BJP-led government at the Centre for allegedly dividing the country on communal and caste lines, pointing out that under their rule, Ambedkar's statues were being desecrated and defiled around the country.
The BJP was "destroying" India's social fabric, alleged.
He also flayed what the Centre had done to undermine the Dalits by diluting the SC/ST Act. "What was more, the Centre owed Rs 1,100 crore to Punjab in connection with the post-matric scholarship scheme for Scheduled Caste students," he claimed.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)