Balija community demands quota under 2a group, threatens stir

Published on Jan 25, 2023 11:39 PM IST

“Under the existing system, most communities in the backward classes are clubbed under the ‘2A’ category, but we are witnessing a shift with many communities being classified under the ‘3A’ category despite no official recommendation. This has greatly affected members of the Balija community,” Venkatesh told the media.

Balija community members stage a protest demanding 2A reservation, at Freedom Park in Bengaluru on Jan. 9. (PTI)
Balija community members stage a protest demanding 2A reservation, at Freedom Park in Bengaluru on Jan. 9. (PTI)
By, Bengaluru

Amid protest by the Panchamasali community demanding reservation under 2A of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category continues, members of the Balija community are planning a rally demanding reservation under the same category.

Honorary president of the Balija Association, HA Venkatesh, said that the members of the Balija community have announced that they will hold the ‘Balija Sankalpa Yatra’ in Bengaluru on Friday demanding reservations.

“Under the existing system, most communities in the backward classes are clubbed under the ‘2A’ category, but we are witnessing a shift with many communities being classified under the ‘3A’ category despite no official recommendation. This has greatly affected members of the Balija community,” Venkatesh told the media.

According to the leader, 5,000 members of the Balija community from Mysuru and Chamarajanagar will reach Bengaluru to take part in the rally, and the members will submit a memorandum to chief minister Basavaraj Bommai citing their demands.

This is not the first protest by the community in January by members of the Balija community at Freedom Park with demand reservation. The Balija community had a reservation under the 2A category for many years. However, the state government shifted the classification from 2A to 3A in 1994 due to pressure from other communities with political influence.

There are over 4 million voters of the Balija community across the state, and we play a decisive role in more than 54 Assembly constituencies.

Panchamasali community leaders have already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming the community has lost trust in chief minister Basavaraj Bommai and demanded a quota under 2A. The seer said that with the government dragging its feet on the demands of the community, the central government has to interfere in the matter.

Jaya Mruthyunjaya, the seer of Kudalasangama mutt, who is on an indefinite protest at Freedom Park in Bengaluru, said that the Karnataka government has failed to address the community’s concerns.

In the letter, the seer claimed they lost confidence in Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. “We have no trust in Bommai and BSY, who made false promises and tried to mislead our agitation,” the statement released by the seer read.

The seer, who didn’t release the content of the full four-page letter, said that the Prime Minister has been informed about the recent development in the state. He also cautioned the BJP government that if they neglect them, the community will ‘neglect’ the party.

The two dominant communities -- Vokkaliga and Panchamasalis -- which are in 3A and 3B categories have been demanding reservations under 2A status, and the government decided to abolish 3A and 3B categories. Under 3A, there were 12 castes, including Vokkaliga, Reddy, Balija, Banta, and Kodava, while under 3B, there were Veerashaiva and Lingayat communities and sub-castes.

In the recently concluded winter session of the state assembly in Belagavi, the government announced the creation of two new categories: 2C and 2D, to include the Lingayats and Vokkaligas in the reservations. Since the announcement, the Panchamasali caste of the Lingayats has been demanding inclusion in the 2A category, which has 15% reservation. The Panchamasali Lingayat community wants to be included in category 2A (15%) of the OBC reservation matrix. They are currently included under 3B (5%).

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