New Delhi: Ahead of parliamentary elections, Union Cabinet today (7 January 2017) approved 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections cutting across religious lines in government jobs and education.
The General or the unreserved category of candidates from the economically backward or deprived sections will get the benefits of this reservation.
The Cabinet decision to introduce quota for economically weaker sections comes in the wake of BJP’s ouster from power in the Hindi heartland States- Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
The demand for reservation on economic basis was raised in a big way in Madhya Pradesh by SAPAKS Samaj, a people’s organisation founded by senior journalist Lalit Shastri in Novemner 2016. During electioneering for the just concluded general election to the State Assembly, Shastri had appealed to the people to vote for NOTA. Shastri’s message got relayed across constituencies by his band of supporters in the SAPAKS organisation, who were galvanised by the massive support to the call for Bharat Bandh against the amendment to the SC/ST Atrocities Act by the Modi Government and this led to what could be described as a “tectonic shift” of votes away from the BJP at a time when there was neither a wave against the BJP nor an over-riding support for the Congress party. When both parties were fighting neck to neck and chasing every vote, when the victory margin for dozens of candidates was a just a few hundred votes, the half a million plus NOTA votes played a decisive role in shaping the outcome of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections. The impact of the SAPAKS Samaj movement also reverbeterated in neighbouring Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and the result was the end of BJP rule even in these States.
The decision, on implementation, will increase reservation quota to 60 per cent from the existing 50 per cent.
The government has to move a Bill in Parliament to amend the Constitution to implement the decision.
The economically weaker sections to benefit from this decision would be categorised on the basis of the size of their landholdings and family income.
There is bound to be plenty of heartburn among the bright and meritorious students from the unreserved category since the Modi Government had decided to raise the quota for jobs and admissions to 60 per cent. the problem would get magnified if those applying for a seat or job under the quota shall be eligible for general merit seat. Besides, raising the quota limit beyond 50 per cent is unfair, unjust and discriminatory against those not covered by any quota.