Lok Sabha okays putting seven castes under Devendrakula Vellalars

The Lok Sabha on Friday passed The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021, that seeks to put seven castes under one nomenclature of “Devendrakula Vellalars” with some exceptions for some of the castes in certain districts of Tamil Nadu. The castes include Devendrakulathan, Kadaiyan, Kalladi, Kudumban, Pallan, Pannadi and Vathiriyan.

Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot said that the change in nomenclature was a long pending demand of the community and did not involve either the deletion or addition of any community in its ambit. He also said that the reason why a whole new addition wasn’t made to the Scheduled Castes list and specific caste names previously given to these seven castes were being mentioned in the bracket was to ensure that old caste certificates issued to these communities under the old name not be rejected.

The opposition, while supporting the Bill, pointed out that the government was acting on the demand only because elections were on in Tamil Nadu. “I have gone through the files of this case and the demand has been there for a while, and should have been expedited, but the government dragged its feet just to time it with elections,” said Congress MP Dr Amar Singh.

Girish Chandra of the Bahujan Samaj Party said that some members of the community wanted to be removed from the SC list and added to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) list, adding that the Bill should have been send to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny.

Rahul Shewale of the Shiv Sena demanded a “proactive” approach from the Union government on the issue of Maratha reservation and breaching the 50% cap on reservations set by the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney case. Mr. Gehlot in his reply said that it was the Maharashtra government that had moved an appeal in the Supreme Court in the case and the Centre was neither a party to the case nor had its opinion been sought by the Supreme Court.

BJP MP Rita Bahuguna Joshi commended the Bill as being related to the self respect of the Devendrakula Vellalar community who had been in ancient times, warriors and agiculturists and had gradually lost their status over time. “It is the duty of every government to restore the dignity of the oppressed in society,” she said.

Members of the Devendrakula Vellalar had met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to press for their demand since 2015 with the BJP championing the cause in Tamil Nadu.

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