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Alleging discrimination against SC/STs, Pilot loyalist MLA threatens to quit party

The development comes two days after Meena, former Food and Civil Supplies minister, had an argument with Speaker C P Joshi inside in the Assembly over not having a microphone on his chair.

Former Rajasthan minister Ramesh Meena on Friday threatened to quit the party alleging discrimination against Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and minority MLAs by the government and in Assembly proceedings, saying that he has sought time from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Meena, who was removed as a minister after he joined rebellion by former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot last year, said, “I don’t seek a ministerial post, but only development. I am a Congress worker. I have sought time from Rahul Gandhi. If he listens to us [then it is fine], or if it isn’t addressed, then I won’t hesitate in giving my resignation letter.”

The development comes two days after Meena, former Food and Civil Supplies minister, had an argument with Speaker C P Joshi inside in the Assembly over not having a microphone on his chair.

Talking to journalists outside the Assembly Friday, Meena said, “We are elected MLAs and are ruling party MLAs. I respect the Speaker, and he can seat me on the floor, but there should be an arrangement for us to speak. A message should not go in my Assembly constituency that I don’t have a microphone and I’m not being allowed to speak.”

“If we ourselves are not getting heard in the Assembly, and if we are not being taken seriously, how will other SC/STs and OBCs be heard. The present Congress government was formed with SC/STs, OBC and minorities, and if they themselves are facing discrimination…” he said, accusing Congress Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi of discrimination when it comes to seating “MLAs from the marginalised communities.”

He said that Joshi has said that there are 50 seats which do not have a microphone, “which is a serious issue. You are buying scanners, and deploying medical staff, giving tablets, suitcases [to MLAs] even though only 20 per cent MLAs know how to use a tablet. So, the government could have spent a little more and provided a microphone to everyone.”

He said that there are just two SC ministers, Tikaram Jully and Bhajan Lal Jatav, and both don’t have a microphone on their tables and that there was “enough time since July last year” to make arrangements for microphones, or rotate the seating so that everyone get tables with microphones.

Meena said that the issue reflected a larger bias in the government and in the Assembly, saying that this is the third budget by the incumbent government and the budget allotted to reserved seats can be contrasted with Jodhpur and Kota; Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal’s constituencies fall in Jodhpur and Kota, respectively.

Second, he alleged that the ministers pull up party MLAs from marginalised communities and evade them when they try to meet, citing the example of Congress MLAs Prashant Bairwa, who is an SC and Ameen Khan.

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