Stepping up its Dalit outreach, the BJP-led NDA government will now push for reservation for schedules castes and tribes in promotion in government jobs and may bring an ordinance.
Union minister and BJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan, who has emerged as the government's key spokesperson on Dalit issues, told reporters that the government will move the apex court for the repeal of its directions which, he added, have halted the reservation for these communities in promotion.
Paswan, who is a member of a group of ministers constituted for issues involving these communities, said the government is open to bringing an ordinance but will first move the apex court.
His announcement comes close on the heels of the government's decision to file pleas in the apex court against its two orders which, it has argued, would work against the interests of the SCs and the STs.
With several Dalits groups agitating and opposition parties targeting the BJP, the government is keen to flaunt its pro-Dalit credentials as it prepares for a series of polls, including the next Lok Sabha election in 2019, in which votes of the community will be crucial to its fortune.
Paswan said the court has ruled in favour of reservation for SCs and STs in promotion but also introduced several conditions, which have led to non-implementation of quota guidelines.
According to these guidelines, state and central governments have to verify backwardness and efficiency for employees to be benefitted from reservation in promotion rules, Paswan said.
The Constitution regards schedules castes and tribes as backwards, he said, adding that SC and ST employees are as efficient as others so both criteria are unnecessary.
The NDA government had recently filed a review plea in the apex court against its order on the Schedules Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and also a Special Leave Petition against a decision that has led to fall in the number of seats reserved for SC and ST candidates in universities.
"Nobody has done so much for Dalits as the NDA government has. We are committee to ensure that their interests are not harmed," Paswan said.