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16 Jul 2018

Limbus and Tamangs hope for House quota

RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Jul 16, 2018, Gangtok: The Sikkim Limboo Tamang Apex Committee (Siltac) on Sunday expressed the confidence that its long-standing demand for reservation of seats in the Sikkim Assembly for the Limbus and Tamangs would soon be met by the Central government.

A seven-member Siltac delegation had recently spent about 10 days in Delhi meeting Union ministers and senior government officials to lobby for the acceptance of its demand.

The Limbus and Tamangs were granted Scheduled Tribe status in 2003, but are yet to get their quota of seats in the Assembly.

"We have received positive assurances from all Central leaders and officials we met in New Delhi. We are 99 per cent confident our demand will be met soon," said C.B. Subba, the chairman of Siltac. The population of Limbu-Tamang communities in Sikkim is believed to be around 90,000.

Sikkim goes to the polls in the middle of next year, and chief minister Pawan Chamling has often asserted that the seats for the Limbu-Tamang communities will be reserved before that.

Siltac enjoys the backing of the Sikkim government and the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front.

A formula worked out by the state government to ensure seat reservations for the two communities had recommended increasing the strength of the Assembly from the present 32 to 40, and reserving five seats from the increased pool for the Limbus and Tamangs. At present, 12 out of the 32 seats are reserved for the Bhutias and Lepchas, who are both tribals, one for sangha, which is a body of monks, and two for Scheduled Castes.

Subba said in the memorandums submitted to the Central authorities, Siltac endorsed the formula of the state government and also stressed the urgency of the demand, given that the Assembly elections are taking place next year.

Siltac also urged that the matter of seat reservation be placed in the coming session of the Parliament which begins onJuly 18.

"If there is a delay in Limboo-Tamang seat reservation due to procedural issues in the Parliament, a Presidential Ordinance would be required so that the seats are delivered before the 2019 elections," said Subba.

The Siltac delegation had also met President Ram Nath Kovind during their Delhi visit. Union home minister Rajnath Singh, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and tribal affairs minister Jual Oram were among the many other functionaries that the team had met.

The Siltac members said based on their exchanges with the Central leaders, their understanding was that file on the Limboo-Tamang seat reservation has returned to the Union home ministry after being vetted by the law ministry, and the matter will now be placed in the cabinet for its approval.

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