Punjab’s minister for welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (SC/BC), Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, candidly stated on Monday that wooing those from the reserved categories has become a “compulsion” for political parties “due to the large vote bank”.
“It’s a compulsion of the Congress too,” said Dharamsot, who is the party’s MLA from Nabha that is reserved for SCs and is known as one of the few Dalit leaders of his party in the state.
He was speaking at the National SC-ST Hub conclave, organized by National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) under the guidance of the Union ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises to launch a scheme by which SC/ST entrepreneurs are encouraged to engage with public sector units.
Recalling the history of violence against those from the oppressed classes, Dharamsot praised Bhimrao Ambedkar and his vision of reservation for Dalits. “Nobody allows Dalits to prosper. And we know how to fight our own battle,” said the minister, receiving applause.
As for the National SC-ST Hub scheme, it emphasised the public procurement policy, 2012, of the Union government which states that 20% of total procurement of goods and services by central ministries, departments and units shall be made from smaller enterprises, and 20% of that (4% of total) from those owned by SCs and STs.
When asked whether the state government will also adopt this scheme, the minister said, “That decision can be taken later.”
He said the state government will leave no stone unturned in creating awareness about the scheme. “There is also need to provide free training, easy availability of loans to start the business, and marketing of products, so that SC/ST people can move forward in society.”
Dubs unions protesting over debt waiver ‘SAD allies’
Responding to media queries about the debt waiver scheme launched by the chief minister in Mansa on Sunday, minister Dharamsot targeted farmer union and termed them allies of the Shiromani Akali Dal. “Those union opposing the debt waiver scheme are backed by the SAD. Sukhbir Badal is left with no option other than crying hoarse, as our chief minister has fulfilled his pre-poll promises,” he said. Unions have been questioning the criteria and manner of the waiver.