It is now washermens turn to fight for reservations

Dara GopiA�

Vijayawada: The washermen are now on a warpath seeking reservations. The State is already facing the heat with Kapus fighting for reservation. The government is having tough time with the Kapus asking it for fulfillment of the promise made to them during the last elections. It is now the turn of the washermen who are asking the government to extend the Scheduled Caste status for them as promised during the elections.

The United Forum of Washermen Associations has announced a 48 hour long hunger strike seeking extension of SC reservations for them. The hunger strike would be held fromA�February 27A�at the Dharna Chowk in the city.

Forum president Pathapati Anji Babu told media persons here on Friday that the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had promised SC status for the washermen in their election manifesto. He said that Chandrababu Naidu had repeatedly promised to extend the SC status for them during the election campaign. The washermen community across the country had trusted Chandrababu Naidu had rallied behind him in the elections. However, even after two and a half years after the elections, the TDP government had not fulfilled the promise, he said.

a�?We have been fighting for SC status for washermen for the past 60 years. We trusted Chandrababu Naidu when he promised SC status for us in the 2014 elections. We are now asking him to fulfill the promise,a�? Anji Babu asserted.

Drawing a parallel with the Kapus, Anji Babu said that Chandrababu Naidu had constituted a corporation for the Kapus and allocated Rs 1000 crore for their welfare, ignoring the promise that he had given to the washermen. He demanded that the government create a corporation for the washermen and allocate Rs 1000 crore for them too. He further said that the government had given huge amount of funds for various corporations like Padmasalis, Salivahanas, Brahmins and Kapus during the last two years. a�?While Kapus were given Rs 1000 crore following their agitation, the Brahmins got Rs 1500 crore because of its chairman who served the State as Chief Secretary,a�? Anji Babu said and regretted that the washermen community was ignored. He further said that the government had allocated Rs 30 crore for the community through the federation but had spent just Rs 3 crore during the year. a�?The financial year is coming to an end and we are set to lose the Rs 27 crore this year,a�? he added.

Anji Babu requested the State government to consider their demand for inclusion of the washermen community in the SC list and extend reservations without further delay. He said that the Central government had already given directions to the States in 1984 to extend the SC status for the washermen community.

The United Forum leader and AP Congress spokesman Kolanukonda Sivaji, said that they were asking the TDP government to fulfill its election promise. He said that the washermen community had been fighting for SC status for over six decades. Several States have already extended the SC status for the community, while Andhra Pradesh is yet to consider. He said that AP government too had recommended for inclusion of washermen community in the SC list in 1985, but nothing had happened. He wanted the Chief Minister to take these factors into consideration and extend SC reservations for the dobhi community in the State.

Retired history professor, P Veerabrahmam said that the washermen community in the State has been with the TDP for several years. a�?We have voted for the TDP in the 2014 elections. We are present in every Assembly constituency and in every village. This government cannot go back on its poll promise,a�? Prof. Veerabrahmam asserted.

The forum leaders K Venkateswarlu, S Srinivasa Rao, K Srinivasa Rao, U Seshagiri Rao, K Mohana Rao and others were present at the news conference.

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