Government's efforts to go ahead with implementation of resevation for OBCs in elite educational institutions appears to be facing problems with an informal meeting of senior ministers chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unable to evolve a consensus on the roadmap.
The meeting, which reviewed progress on the UPA's commitment to bring the enabling bill in the current session in the light of the Moily Committee report, discussed various aspects including the funding of the expansion of the capacity of institutions like IITs, IIMs and Central Universities.
Sources said there was no consensus on almost all the issues like how to go about implementing the proposal, whether to do it one go or in a phased manner and judicial scrutiny.
The whopping Rs 16,000 crore needed for funding the reservation-linked expansion in the first five years appeared to be a major issue, they said adding the government, however, would not not be deterred by that.
The government has already declared its intention to table a bill to implement the fresh reservation during the current session of Parliament and the draft legislation is under preparation.
The meeting was held against the backdrop of the interim report submitted by the Oversight Committee headed by former Karnataka chief minister Veerappa Moily last week.
The report has suggested that the OBC reservation in elite institutions could not be implemented in one go and may be staggered.
Backed by strong support from the Left parties and key allies like the DMK and PMK, Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh has been keen on implementing the quota in one go from the next academic year.
The new reservation process, which will cover all Central and elite institutions like IITs and IIMs, is to be accompanied by a 54 per cent expansion in seats to ensure the 27 per cent quota for OBCs.
Meanwhile, in an interview to a news channel, Moily said money was not an issue for implementing the quota. "I have discussed the matter with (Finance Minister P) Chidambaram and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission...After critically examining we have given a report that it will come to Rs 16,000 crore...Including recurring and non-recurring expenditure for five years."
Admitting that the IIMs and IITs were apprehensive, Moily said, "They were afraid that the government bulldozed such implementation...They will not back it up with innovative steps or funding which is required. Now that we have said the government will do it...The Oversight Commitee is anxious to do it and address all your concerns...I don't think there is any reason they will hesitate."