The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has asked the SAD-BJP alliance government in Punjab to clear the backlog of over 40,000 vacancies reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) by July-end.
“The Punjab government had failed to fill over 40,000 posts reserved for SC candidates in various departments during the past decade. I sent a letter to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, asking him to fill these posts by July-end. A separate notice in this regard was also issued to the chief secretary,” Raj Kumar Verka, commission's vice-chairman, told mediapersons on Saturday.
Verka questioned the rationale behind the state's delay in launching special drive to recruit deserving SC applicants. “These reserved posts cannot be filled by candidates of other categories. The Centre and Haryana government have started the process to fill 75,000 and 30,000 vacant posts, respectively. Then why the Punjab government is delaying the recruitment process?” he said.
The SC panel vice-chairman maintained that the state government had already started outsourcing certain category of jobs, thus, in turn hitting the interests of Dalits. “The vacancies in government departments should be filled on regular basis and according to the reservation policy,” he said, adding that the state was not keen on uplifting the poor sections of society.
Verka admitted that the then Amarinder government too failed to give due benefits of reservation policy to the SC candidates.
He criticised the alliance government for spending only 3% of budgetary allocation on Dalit welfare schemes despite the fact that Dalits constitute 33% of the total population of the state. “The discrimination in budgetary allocations on welfare scheme is significant. The state allocates 27.5% funds for Dalit welfare every year while it shows having spent 12% on these schemes. In reality, 9% funds were found diverted for other works every year. Considering the population share, the commission has asked the state to allocate and spend 33% funds of the state budget on welfare schemes,” he said.
Verka maintained that the state government should implement 85th constitutional amendment with regard to promotion of SC employees from 1998. “Though majority of states implemented the promotion policy from 1998, Punjab discriminated against Dalits by promoting such employees with effect from 2006,” he said.
The commission would conduct a review of SC welfare schemes in Punjab in July-end, he added.
'Not keen on contesting LS poll'
On possibility of contesting from the Jalandhar (reserved) Lok Sabha seat in the coming general elections, Verka denied the same and said he was not interested in fighting these elections. “Journalists in Ludhiana, too, asked me the same question. Probably, my activities as commission's vice-chairman prompt journalists to relate the same with politics. I am just discharging duties entrusted by the President to safeguard interests of Dalits,” he said, adding that the party high command's decision in this regard would be final.