Bengaluru: The fate of nearly 10,000 dalit government employees hangs in the balance as they face the threat of being demoted, with the Supreme Court recently scrapping reservation in promotions.
The Congress government is gearing up to challenge the apex court order and is taking great pains to work out a please-all formula to prevent political damage ahead of the 2018 assembly polls.
“We are in a sensitive and tricky situation. If we fail to stand by the dalits, they will brand our party anti-dalit, which could have a huge impact on our election prospects.And if we decide to fight for them, the other backward and upward communities will view us with contempt,“ said a worried senior minister.
Law and parliamentary affairs minister T B Jayachandra said the government is in the process of seeking the opinion of the accountant general (AG) on what best can be done.“Based on his inputs, we will take a final call,“ he added.
On February 9, the apex court had struck down the consequential seniority in promotions awarded by the Karnataka government for SCST employees since 1978. It fixed a three-month period for demoting those promoted under the reserved category . The government can file an appeal within the period.
This can be a cause of worry for the government, given the vast number of SC/ST officials enjoying plum posts because of consequential seniority. On the other hand, those under the general and other backward categories, who are awaiting promotions for years, may finally get their due.
A senior DPAR official said the government is yet to carry out a group-wise survey before implementing such a harsh decision that will bring dalit employees down the seniority ladder -from officers to group `D’ staffers -in one stroke.
Karnataka State Employees Association president B P Manje Gowda said 7,000-10,000 officials and employees may be moved to lower ranks, considering 18% of the posts in each of the 65 departments have been reserved for SCs/STs.
Assuming that 1-2% of the 5.15 lakh government employees have benefitted from the promotion quota, he said thou sands of employees would to be affected by the apex court order. He said the association will not fight for the cause of dalits or other communities since it is concerned about the welfare of all government employees.
Pro-reservation groups, however, have decided to oppose the move. “We are closely monitoring the government’s next step, and have asked SC/ST employees to prepare for a mass agitation as and when required,“ said a senior SC/ST employee, who didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing crucial official work to a grinding halt.