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August 16, 2008: The Hindu KOCHI: A Dalit convention being organised by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) here on .....




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August 16, 2008: The Hindu

KOCHI: A Dalit convention being organised by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) here on Saturday will make a forceful demand for reservation of jobs for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the private sector.

The reservation issue will top the 17-point charter of demand to be adopted at the meet, which will be held at the Harkishan Singh Surjeet Nagar in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at 2 p.m. CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat will open the convention.

An array of senior party and government leaders, including Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and party State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, will attend the convention, billed as one of the largest Dalit conventions in the State. The meet aims to politically energise the Dalits and enable them to assert their rights within Kerala's mainstream politics.

Minister for Welfare of Scheduled and Backward Communities A.K. Balan, who is the chairman of the reception committee, told The Hindu that job reservation in the private sector was crucial for the economic emancipation of the Scheduled communities in the times of globalisation. He pointed out that job opportunities were fast shrinking in the government sector and public-sector undertakings. This had affected the Scheduled communities badly, as they were not yet able to compete with general-category job-seekers.

Mr. Balan said strong pressure needed to be put on the Union government for a constitutional amendment to facilitate reservation. The private sector job reservation was on the agenda of the party and the last congress had discussed it.

The meeting would also press the government to identify extra land holdings and allot them to Dalits on a war-footing to solve Dalit landlessness. A major issue that will be discussed at the meet is measures to secure higher education and professional training for the Scheduled Castes community. Though the Dalits were mostly literate now, they lagged behind in terms of higher education and professional education.

Mr. Balan said there was nothing wrong in the CPI(M) organising a Dalit convention and this did not mean that the party was abandoning the class war and promoting caste-based struggles. Organising depressed communities to enable them to assert their rights and fight for their demands was a party policy. Conventions of converted Christians would be the next, he said.

He ruled out any plan to launch a Dalit-specific organisation. The Dalit issue would be tackled within the mainstream political space of the party. He also denied that the CPI(M) Dalit convention was a response to the Chengara agitation where the party was on the defensive.

Elaborate arrangements, including closed-circuit television, have been made at the convention venue. The main stage for the meeting has been designed by film director Shaji N. Karun. About a lakh people are expected to show up for the convention, party sources said.
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