Guwahati: Unhappy over the Rajya Sabha not passing a bill to grant to six communities, organisations spearheading the demand have decided to start a united movement against BJP in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
“All organisations representing the six communities will soon meet and will work out a plan for a united movement. I can only tell this now that BJP will have to face strong opposition from the six communities in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls for not fulfilling its promise of granting ST status,” said All Tai Ahom Students Union (Atasu) president Litul Buragohain.

The six communities demanding ST status are Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi, Moran, Matak, Chutiya and tea tribe. The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which would have paved the way ST status to the six communities was pending in the the Rajya Sabha. Last month, the Union cabinet had approved tribal status to the six communities — an electoral promise of BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls as well as the 2016 assembly elections. The six communities, currently in the OBC category, and comprise 27% of the state’s population.

Buragohain said the electorate from the six communities play a deciding factor in at least 65 out of 126 assembly constituencies in the state. “We will not give up without a strong movement for our demand that has been pending for years,” he added.

All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union general secretary Gokul Barman said they have already started mobilizing people of their community for its “BJP hatao” campaign.

“Our community will not remain silent just because the Union Cabinet has approved ST status for the six communities. We will not rest until we see that the ST status for six communities becomes a concrete reality. So, BJP will face strong opposition from us in the upcoming parliamentary polls for not being able to fulfill our demand,” Barman said.

A senior BJP leader said the Centre is committed to fulfilling the demand and it is steadfastly pursuing the issue of ST status. “ST status for six communities is one of the steps for ensuring jati, mati, bheti (identity, land and homeland) of the indigenous people. BJP is committed to safeguarding the rights and identities of the indigenous people,” the leader added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the state on February 9, reiterated the Centre’s commitment to grant ST status to the six communities without hampering the privileges of the existing tribes enjoying the tag.

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