Hyderabad : The Andhra Pradesh assembly Tuesday adopted a resolution urging the central government to take steps to grant Scheduled Caste (SC) status to Dalit Christians or SC members who convert to Christianity.
The resolution moved by Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy appealed to the centre to bring an amendment to the Constitution to confer SC status on Dalit Christians.
The ruling Congress, main opposition Telugu Desam Party, Praja Rajyam, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist all supported the resolution.
The only exceptions were the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Lok Satta.
The chief minister said there was a need for SC status to Dalit Christians as they continue to face the same discrimination as Dalits. He assured the house that the government was positively inclined towards providing the same status to Dalit Muslims.
MIM demanded that Dalits who have converted to Islam should also be given SC status.
Lok Satta president Jayaprakash Narayan opposed the move saying the Supreme Court had passed orders opposing such a status to converts. He said the move would hit the interests of SCs as the existing 15 percent reservation would have to be divided between SCs and Dalit Christians.
BJP leader Kishan Reddy opposed the move saying this would lure SCs to convert to Christianity and promote missionary activities.
Christian leaders in the state have welcomed the resolution. They said an amendment to the Constitutional Order of 1950 would be sufficient to meet their long pending demand.
Father Anthoni Raj Thumma, executive secretary of the AP Federation of Churches, said the Constitutional order was amended twice in the past to extend SC status benefits to Dalit Sikhs and Dalit Buddhists.