Modi’s latest Political Googly: Reservation for economically weaker forward castes

Narendra Modi

Today morning, BJP government at centre decided to give 10% reservation in jobs to those belonging to economically backward forward castes. The latest decision of Modi government on the penultimate day of the current Parliament session raises lot of doubts. Firstly, to make a constitutional amendment the Govt needs to pass this bill with a two third majority in both Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha. Considering their lack of numbers in the upper house, it’s simply out of question that they can get it through the upper house. Moreover, the next Parliament session will be the last one before the next General election to be held sometimes in May or June 2019 which will mostly focus on passing the interim budget.

It is obvious that in a bid to bring back the disgruntled forward caste into its fold once again, BJP government has come out with an ill timed poll googly. The latest cabinet decision gives the economically weaker forward caste a 10% reservation in government jobs. The million dollar question is where are the government jobs?

The reservation is not only approved in Govt jobs but is also applicable in the education sector. The next logical move for the government will be amending the constitution to grant the benefit of 10 % reservation for the economically weaker upper caste people.

If the government would have been really keen in improving the lot of those belonging to economically weaker forward castes, it wouldn’t have waited for its full term. Therefore, even a layman can understand that this is clearly a politically motivated decision taken ahead of the General Elections this year.

The government while announcing reservation in jobs for those belonging to the upper castes has put a rider of an annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh per year. A bill to amend Article 15 and 16 of the constitution is likely to be moved in the Parliament to this effect. The Supreme Court has earlier capped the quota for caste-based reservation for government jobs at 50 %. Most states do not provide more than 50% reservation barring Tamil Nadu, which has a whopping 69% reservation. In Tamil Nadu there is 50% reservation for OBC, 18% for SC and 1% for ST. Tamil Nadu crossed the threshold of 50% limit in 1980 after the then ADMK government decided to withdraw the “Creamy Layer” policy.

The central government decided to include the Tamil Nadu Reservation System under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution only after number of cases were filed against this system followed by years of argument and counter arguments. The Supreme Court subsequently upheld the move which made Tamil Nadu as the only state in India that has legally been able to provide more than 50% reservation for backward castes.

In plane words this means that economically weaker section of the society, even if they belong to the Upper castes like Brahmin, Raput, Jats or Patidars will be considered for reservation in the government jobs. This wasn’t the case earlier when reservation was conceived in government jobs. It was applicable only for those belonging to the SC-ST and the backwards.

BJP has earlier used this political gimmick during the assembly elections of Gujarat in 2017. It was prima facie devised by the ruling BJP in Gujarat for appeasing the Patidars which in turn was a replica of the solution it had proffered for Gurjars of Rajasthan. The BJP government of Vasundhra Raje had extended 5% reservation to a special category of backwards that included Gurjars and another 14 % quota to economically backward classes. In all probability, the latest 10% reservation for economically backward section from forward castes is only a hollow Jumla by this clueless Govt. They know that people from forward as well as backward castes have long deserted the BJP’s bandwagon. This is possibly a last- ditch effort from the BJP to save themselves from a certain defeat in the next General elections.

Now one thing is certain. No matter what they do, what ‘jumlas’ they give, nothing is going to save this Govt. This only reminds us of these famous lines from a hit Bollywood film ‘Huzoor aate aate bahot der kar di’!

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