AP govt probes Dalit status of YSRC MLA who claimed she is Christian
Lawmaker Vundavalli Sridevi said the controversy over her Scheduled Caste status was the handiwork of the Telugu Desam Party.Updated: Nov 19, 2019 18:24 IST
The Andhra Pradesh government has initiated a probe into the claim of YSR Congress party lawmaker Vundavalli Sridevi that she is a Dalit and issued notices to her submit evidence to prove her claim following a complaint against her religious status, officials said.
Guntur district joint collector A S Dinesh Kumar, who is also an additional district magistrate and chairman of district-level scrutiny committee, sent notices to the ruling party MLA three days ago, asking her to appear before the scrutiny committee by 3 pm on November 26.
The notice to Sridevi, who was elected from Tadikonda assembly constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs), came more than four months after told a web channel in an interview in July that she was a Christian. As per the Andhra Pradesh government’s rule, SCs who converted to Christianity fall under Group-C category of Other Backward Classes.
The joint collector has asked Sridevi to bring relevant documents and certificates to prove that she belongs to Scheduled Castes, failing which the committee would take a decision based on the available documents, material and evidence as submitted by the district collector.
“You can bring your parents/guardian and blood relatives to assist you during the inquiry,” he said in the notice.
The inquiry was commissioned following a direction from Election Commission of India and also President Ramnath Kovind, who acted on a petition submitted by an NGO activist A Santosh of Legal Rights Protection Forum in September.
In his complaint, Santosh said as per the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950, no person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.
He also pointed out a written reply given by former Union minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions Jitendra Singh to a question in the Lok Sabha on March 16, 2016 said the Scheduled Castes converted to Christianity are included in the Central List of Other Backward Classes of some of the States.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan referred his petition to then Andhra Pradesh chief secretary L V Subrahmanyam asking him to inquire into the same. Simultaneously, the EC also forwarded the petition to the government to order a probe into the same. Subrahmanyam directed the Guntur joint collector to initiate the probe into the alleged false affidavit submitted by Sridevi to misuse the SC status to get elected from the reserved constituency.
Sridevi, however, told the reporters that there was nothing wrong in having belief in Christianity. “My father is a Scheduled Caste. I am a Scheduled Caste by birth. I have SC certificate in SSC too. I contested from an SC constituency after taking valid certificate from the government authorities,” she said.
Stating that the controversy over her SC status was a handiwork of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the MLA said there was no relation between caste and religion. “Caste would not be identified based on religious faith,” she argued.