With about five months left for the Lok Sabha elections, the union cabinet on Monday approved
10 percent reservation to economically backward upper castes in government jobs educational institutions.
This reservation will be over and above the existing 50 percent reservation, and the government is likely to bring a constitutional amendment bill in Parliament on Tuesday.
It will be given to those economically backward poor people who are not availing the benefit of reservation as of now. The reservation benefit is likely to be availed by those whose annual income is below Rs 8 lakh and have up to five acres of land.
With just 90 days before the elections, how will this move play out? Can the constitution be amended so soon? And how will the judiciary react to this move? Ghanshyam Tiwari of the Samajwadi Party; Kancha Ilahaih, dalit intellectual, Gopal Krishna Agarwal of BJP; Nawab Malik of NCP; Raghav Chadha of AAP; Lalit Shastri, the founder of Sapaks Samaj, Sharat Pradhan, senior journalist and Sulaiman Mohd Khan spokesperson of Congress shared their views and outlook.
The government has been doing so many activities or policies and taking decisions for the weaker sections of the society and this is a continuous process, said Agarwal.
"This was an intention of the government that the weaker sections of the society should be benefited at all levels. There was a discussion on this issue that economically weaker sections of other castes which are considered as higher/upper castes should also be benefited,” Agarwal added.
“This is an insincere attempt, there is no thorough research that the government has put in to build the consensus. Instead of thinking in a logical manner, the government had thought in a manner by which it can grab headlines, create something that will never be implemented and then use this as a political propaganda,” Tiwari said.
“They have to reply whether this decision they have made for political benefit or giving benefit on the basis of economics to the poor in upper caste. As far as reservation is concerned, to poor in upper caste – we are not opposing it but the limit they had decided for Rs 8 lakh per annum income, definitely it will not be benefited to the poor in upper caste. The well-settled people will take benefit of it, Malik said.
“We firmly believe that in order to bring 10 percent reservation as the government seems to be proposing, there needs to be a constitutional amendment because there are various Supreme Court (SC) judgements as well as constitutional boundations on increasing the total percentage of reservation. So first of all, the government needs to follow a process of bringing in a constitutional amendment and then bring in a bill to include 10 percent reservation. We believe that it is legally impossible for this government to bring in a constitutional amendment, get it passed as well as bring in a bill to support this and get that cleared too before May 26, 2019," Chadha said.
“The point is that 10 percent reservation based on economic criteria is welcome but the question is, where is the plan for this, what kind of modalities that this government wants to adapt. Now, the session is coming to an end and next parliament session is only on vote on account - they have seen that the certain sections of upper castes are dead against them on two-three other questions. However, how do they do it? You have to do it in a manner that is sustainable in law and this gesture does not have any systematic plan to sustain it and then take the whole thing to a logical end. That is the main issue,” Ilaiah said.
“The union cabinet decision is like a knee-jerk reaction, especially after the BJP lost power in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. If we have to analyse today’s decision, particularly I feel, it is too little and too late,” said Shastri.
“This is BJP's wishful thinking to believe that they are doing it for any kind of compassion for the economically weak, one would be only naive to believe that. So, the fact of the matter is that this is simple vote politics. This kind of a demand has often on been raised by the upper caste seeking reservation in jobs, the timing that they have chosen makes it more than evident that this is being done only for vote," Pradhan said.
Had they really wanted to do something then they would have done it much earlier, he said.
Congress party has always been a supporter of people who are financially, educationally or socially weak and it will support anyone who is on the last pedestrian of the social hierarchy subject to the condition that the current reservation which is existing including the reservation for SC/ST and OBCs is not disturbed, said Sulaiman Mohd Khan said."Bringing a bill on the last day of the parliament and when you are almost 100 days away from losing power, I think it clearly tells the intention of the government," Khan said.