Meghalaya: VPP president's hunger strike over reservation policy enters 8th day
Voice of People's Party president Ardent Basaiawmoit enters 8th day of indefinite hunger strike

Shillong: Opposition Voice of People’s Party (VPP) president Ardent Basaiawmoit’s indefinite hunger strike demanding a review of the 1972 job reservation policy entered the eighth day on Tuesday even as Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar said the government will decide on the reservation policy after CM Conrad K Sangma returns to the state.

The VPP leader rejected the request of the state government for talks demanding that the 40:40 reservation of jobs between the Khasis and the Garos be reviewed.

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Basaiawmoit said that his party will withdraw the indefinite hunger strike only if the government is ready to review the 1972 job reservation policy.

“Our stand was made clear before the government. If the government is still adamant, I will not leave this place until the government decides to review the present job reservation policy,” the VPP chief said.

According to him, the party has also made it very clear that the ratio in terms of job reservation should be proportionate as per the population structure of the state.

“We will take a call on this (reservation policy) when the chief minister is back in station,” Dhar told PTI.

The DyCM said, “The issue is sensitive and needed to be discussed at length, however, it should not be discussed in the streets but across the table.”

Dhar also criticized the VPP president’s absence at the all-political party meeting on Tuesday last chaired by chief minister Conrad Sangma.

“If he had attended (the all-political party meeting) he could have shared his views on the matter,” Dhar added.

Since 1972, 40 per cent of the state government jobs are reserved for the Garo and Khasi communities each. Another five per cent is reserved for other tribes residing in the state while the remaining 15 per cent are for the general category.

The VPP has been seeking a review of the policy asserting that it is unfair to the Khasi tribe, the population of which has outnumbered that of the Garos over the years.

The present policy needs a relook as the population of Khasis consisting of subtribes Jaintias, Wars, Bhois and Lyngngams is higher than the Garo people, it said.

According to the 2011 census, over 14.1 lakh Khasis live in Meghalaya while the number of Garo people is a little over 8.21 lakh.

So, this policy is “unfair and outdated”, the VPP president had said.

According to the VPP president, he is not against the rights of the Garos to government jobs and he is only demanding an “impartial” job reservation policy.

Dhar, however, said that the government will decide what is in the best interest of the people and the state.

He also said that the VPP with 4 MLAs is raking an issue whereas 56 other MLAs understand the magnanimity of the issue, adding that other parties do not support the VPP.

“The other opposition parties also are not supporting the VPP stand on the reservation policy. Therefore, I think we should discuss it properly, in a nice manner,” he said.

Meanwhile, a government-instituted committee on reservation roster met on Monday but the VPP and several organisations did not attend the meeting.

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Committee chairperson and Law Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh said the Committee would inform the government of the need to discuss since there is a demand to review the reservation policy.

Also Read | Meghalaya: Panel proposes all-party stand on Roster system

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