Chief minister M. Karunanidhi on Monday assured a delegation of bishops and Christian community leaders that the 3.5 per cent reservation quota for ‘backward class Christians’ in the state would soon be abolished, thus fulfilling a long-standing demand of the community.
In what is perhaps the first instance of a community rejecting a specific reservation quota in government jobs and educational institution seats, ‘backward Christians’ of the state have made it clear that they prefer to be classified among the OBCs – who enjoyed 30 per cent reservation in Tamil Nadu – rather than be allotted a small quota.
Last year, the state government had carved 3.5 per cent reservation for both ‘backward Christians’ and ‘backward Muslims’ out of the OBC quota — reducing it to 23 per cent – thus leaving the total quantum of reservation – 69 per cent in the state – unchanged.
“But the special quota turned out to be detrimental to the interests of backward Christians,” said Peter Alphonse, Congress MLA, who was part of the delegation.
The formula restricted the backward Christians to just 3.5 per cent of any quota of reserved seats, and introduced many anomalies as well.
Alphonse noted, for instance, that given the 3.5 per cent quota, Christians became eligible for employment only if 14 vacancies or more in any government department had to be filled, not if the number was lower. Again, not a single Christian had been admitted, under the reserved category in the state during the past year.
“Our young people greatly resented this,” said Alphonse. An ordinance to this effect is likely to be passed soon, since the assembly is not in session.