Chandigarh,Nov 2.-The Dalit Mahan Panchayat staged a dharna in sector 25 here to remind the Parkash Singh Badal led Akali-BJP combine of the Dalits' participation on different levels and economic empowerment. The Dalit leadership gave a call to boycott the Akali-BJP combine in the coming Parliamentary elections if they did not respond to their  demands.

"The population of the Scheduled Castes in Punjab has increased substantially in the last 60 years. From around 20 percent it has gone up to about 40 per cent now. All political parties have failed to resolve problems faced by the SC community. They are victims of vote politics. Even though there are 34 SC members in the Vidhan Sabha there is no discussion on their problems," said Paramjit Singh Kainth, convenor of the Mahan Panchayat. "Accordingly their reservation quota in jobs should also be increased," he added.

"The Akali Dal deputy chief minister who is single-handedly running the government, has developed a penchant for hijacking the SC leadership and thereby leaving the SC community with a servile and absentee leadership," said Kainth."

The reserved SC sarpanches do not get  any support from the upper castes who gang up against them. There has never been an SC member in the PPSC.The Punjab Government should allot Rs 100 crore  to the Scheduled Castes Finance Corporation which could be used as loan for self-employment; SC community should get a  share of one third of the village shamlat land and for that the village common land Act be amended to make it foolproof; houseless families should be given five marla plots," said Kainth.

Other demands raised at the dharna were implementation of the post-matric scholarship Cente-sponsored scheme and for this Rs 427 crore allotted for the scheme be released; the increase in reservation quota is justified as the number of reserved Assembly and Parliament seats have been increased.

"The SCs should get reservation in auction of liquor vends, in e-tendering, transport allotment, plots at focal points and in other departments. The 85th amendment should be implemented. The reservation backlog of 25000 jobs should be filled. In the private sector and ad hoc appointments also there should be reservations. The Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Castes Sub Plan Act should be replicated in Punjab.  The total allocation of 11573.83 crores in the 11th five year plan for the welfare of SCs  has not been used. There should be an inquiry into this," he added.

Kiranjit Singh Gehri, co-convenor, said "the SC certificate should be online and its misuse should be checked. Agriculture labours' EPF account should be opened. Under MNREGA the villagers should be engaged instead of machines. The right to education Act should be implemented in letter and spirit."

Leaders of the Mahan Panchayat submitted a memorandum to a representative of the Chief Minister at his residence late in the evening. "If there is no response to the memorandum  we will go on hunger strike starting from December in all district headquarters," warned Kainth.

Others who participated in the dharna were the Chamar Mahan Sabha, Lok Janshakti party, National Scheduled Castes Alliance, Dalit Sena and the Lokshakti Mazdur Sabha.