The Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Tuesday adopted a resolution requesting the Centre to amend the Constitution to grant Scheduled Caste (SC) status to Dalit Christians.
While all the major parties including Congress and TDP supported the resolution to this effect moved by Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, the BJP and Lok Satta Party opposed it.
Initiating the move, which is expected to pay rich political dividends to the ruling Congress Party, Reddy said that the SC status to the Dalit Christians was needed as they continued to face the same discrimination as that of Dalits.
“The special laws and benefits available for Dalits were not applicable to the Dalit Christians, he said.
Reddy also indicated that his Government was positively inclined towards providing the SC status to Dalit Muslims.
Lok Satta leader Jayaprakash Narayan opposed the move saying the Supreme Court had passed orders opposing such a status to converts. He said the move would hit the interests of SCs as the existing 15 percent reservation would have to be divided between SCs and Dalit Christians.
BJP leader Kishan Reddy opposed the move saying this would lure SCs to convert to Christianity and promote missionary activities.
Christian leaders, however have welcomed the move. Father T Anthoni Raj, executive secretary of the AP Federation of Churches, hailed the initiative saying it would meet the long pending demand of the community.