PORVORIM: Chief Minister Pramod Sawant assured Members of the Legislative Assembly on Saturday that reservations for Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities in Assembly constituencies would be implemented in the 2027 Assembly elections.
In response to a calling attention notice from the Opposition, Sawant announced that a State delegation would meet Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah on February 16 to discuss the issue.
However,xthe Opposition was not convinced, with several MLAs pointing out that similar assurances have been made earlier but did not translate to action.
The Chief Minister stated that the government had submitted a letter dated February 7, addressed to Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, and to Union Home Minister, initiating the process to identify and determine the Assembly constituencies to be reserved for ST communities in the State based on the 2011 Census data, by constituting a Delimitation Commission.
“Until now, reservations have been granted in Assam and Jammu and Kashmir based on the 2001 Census. We did not receive tribal rights until 2001, which is why we did not obtain reservation. We are closely monitoring the matter. I have discussed the issue with the Union Tribal Affairs and Union Home Minister, and, as per their instructions, a meeting will be held with them on February 16. We are making 100 per cent effort to provide reservation for ST communities in the State Assembly in the 2027 Assembly elections,” Sawant said.
Sawant highlighted that the next delimitation exercise and the readjustment of seats, including the number of seats to be reserved for 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 are published.
According to the Chief Minister, as per the Census 2011, the population of Scheduled Tribes communities is 1,49,275, which is 10.23 per cent. Scheduled Tribes communities in the State are receiving reservations in elections at village panchayats, municipal councils, and Zilla Panchayats (ZP) but not in Legislative Assembly elections.
Various organisations representing Scheduled Tribes communities have filed numerous representations seeking political reservation in the Goa Legislative Assembly.
Earlier, speaking on the motion, Quepem MLA Altone D’Costa stated that the government is not taking the issue seriously. Benaulim MLA Venzy Viegas commented that the Chief Minister’s response was the same as previously given, with no new information.
Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai criticised the government for lacking the will to advocate for the ST community’s cause.
Calangute MLA Michael Lobo emphasised the need to meet the Prime Minister to resolve the issue.
Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar suggested that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant prioritise the issue.