Parliament proceedings | Arjun Munda justifies move to bring separate Bills for marginalised communities  

Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.

Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.
| Photo Credit: PTI

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2022 to include Betta-Kuruba in the Scheduled Tribes list of Karnataka as a synonym for the already categorised Kadu-Kuruba tribe in the State. 

The Bill was passed through voice vote after a discussion during which most members, including MPs from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, while supporting the Amendment, insisted that the government consider bringing a comprehensive Bill to include all such communities left out of the list instead of bringing legislation one by one. 

In response to the discussion, Minister for Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda said this point on bringing a comprehensive Bill had been raised time and again by members in the House but justified the move of separating them. 

Mr. Munda said this process was testament to the Narendra Modi-led government’s commitment to provide enough time to discuss issues of communities which had for decades remained on the margins of society and deprived of constitutional liberties. “We do not want to bring legislation in a way that will drown out the voices of these communities that in some cases number less than 10,000,” he said, adding that because of this, the House was now giving due time to discuss issues pertaining to the smallest and most marginalised communities in the country.

Slams Congress

Mr. Munda also took the opportunity to hit out at the Congress for shedding “crocodile tears” about the welfare of tribespeople in the country, noting that if they truly cared about the welfare of STs, they would not have opposed President Droupadi Murmu’s candidacy in the presidential elections. 

During the discussion, Congress member Kodikunnil Suresh rose to point out that the government was from time to time bringing Bills to include communities in the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes lists, thereby increasing their populations. “But they are not even willing to consider raising the reservation quota for these communities proportionally,” he said, insisting that for this, the government must conduct a caste census and then frame policies accordingly. 

BJP member Tapir Gao (Arunachal Pradesh), while supporting the Bill, also called for nationwide “tribal census” to determine which communities continued to be left out and then bring a comprehensive Bill to address their concerns in one go. Members of the BSP, Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party, Biju Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United) and others also called for similar comprehensive legislation, giving examples of communities left out in their respective States.

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