PANAJI: After facing criticism for his statement on political reservation, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale apologised to the Schedule Tribe community, stating that he was not aware of their numbers in Goa.
“The population of Scheduled Tribes (ST) in Goa is very small as per the census. Hence reservation is not possible,” Ramdas Athawale said in response to a question while addressing a press conference here on Tuesday.
Athawale drew flak for his statement regarding the Schedule Tribe community and politicians are asking Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and BJP leaders to clarify it.
Later, Athawale clarified stating that he was not aware about the ST population in Goa.
“I was not aware about the Schedule tribe population in Goa, which is around 12 per cent. Even my karyakartas during the press conference didn’t correct me. I apologise for my statement,” Athawale said.
“I had said that as there is a small population of Schedule Tribe, reservation for them is not possible. I was not aware of the status of ST population and hence I made the statement. I apologise for that,” he reiterated.
He said that when ST has 12 per cent population they should get 4 seats reserved in the 40 members Goa legislative assembly.
In July, the Goa Assembly had unanimously adopted a private member resolution, moved by ST leader and MLA Ganesh Gaonkar, asking the government to make provisions for political reservation in Goa assembly for STs.
The ST community has been voicing their demand for political reservation for the last two decades. They have also threatened to boycott the Lok Sabha election 2024 if the reservation is not declared before polls.