PANAJI: Scheduled Tribe (ST) community members have threatened to boycott the upcoming Lok Sabha election in 2024 if the government fails to reserve assembly seats for them before the parliamentary elections, despite the Centre rejecting Goa’s proposal for political reservation to ST.
The group has been calling for political reservation based on the 2011 census, which shows that the ST make up 10.27% of the State’s total population. They are united under the banner of the “Mission Political Reservation for Scheduled Tribe of Goa” (MPRSTG).
According to MPRSTG President John Fernandes in an interview with The Goan, the “readjustment” mechanism used by the Centre to reject Goa’s proposal is not applicable to the State because the ST minority has never been given a political reservation there.
“Centre should rethink their choice. We will abstain from voting if the Center does not advise us of any political reservations before the Lok Sabha election, according to Fernandes.
He also recalled that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was supposed to lead an all-party delegation to Delhi to lobby for political reservation for ST, as he had promised on the House floor. We won’t be silent until our demands are met, he declared.
The MPRSTG has now resolved to arrange village-level gatherings to inform the tribal population of the need to collectively boycott the elections.
The demand for reservation of seats for Scheduled Tribes (ST) communities in the 2027 Goa Assembly elections received a setback after the Centre ruled out delimitation of constituencies before the polls.
Replying to a query raised by the Directorate of Tribal Welfare, the Union Ministry of State for Law and Justice has stated, “The next delimitation exercise and the readjustment of seats, including the number of seats to be reserved for the SCs and STs would only take place by a Delimitation Commission to be constituted for the purpose after the relevant figures of the census taken after the year 2026 is published.”
The reply further states, “Until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, it shall not be necessary to readjust the seats in the Legislative Assembly of each State.”