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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

The ordinance on teacher quota seems aimed at vote banks

The uncertainty which the ruling party now faces is whether the gains of the EWS quota would be nullified by the ordinance to prevent a reduction in reserved jobs in higher educational institutions by the central government

editorials Updated: Mar 08, 2019 09:28 IST

Hindustan Times
It is clear that the move by the ruling coalition is aimed at pre-empting any anger among the Other Backward Class, the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribe voters before the general elections
It is clear that the move by the ruling coalition is aimed at pre-empting any anger among the Other Backward Class, the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribe voters before the general elections(Vijayanand Gupta/HT Photo)
         

The Union Cabinet has promulgated an ordinance to nullify a Supreme Court order asking that departments be taken as a unit instead of the university/college while doing recruitments. The choice of unit has a direct bearing on the number of reserved posts. Implementing the apex court’s order would have led to a drastic reduction in the number of reserved category posts in higher educational institutions.

The ordinance has come two days after a Bharat Bandh was called by pro-reservation groups, with various political parties from the opposition supporting it. It is clear that the move by the ruling coalition is aimed at pre-empting any anger among the Other Backward Class (OBC), the Scheduled Caste (SC) and the Scheduled Tribe (ST) voters before the general elections.

The politics over it is unlikely to end, though.

The opposition would like to claim the announcement as its victory and try and portray the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as anti-reservation.

The BJP has its own set of dilemmas. In 2014, it became the first party to achieve a majority in the Lok Sabha after three decades. Its electoral success came on the back of a multi-caste, multi-class coalition. According to the CSDS-Lokniti survey, the party increased its vote share among all caste and class groups in 2014. Preserving this multi-caste coalition was never going to be easy.

The first serious test for this rainbow coalition came in the 2015 Bihar elections, in which the Opposition exploited a statement by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief to portray the BJP as anti-reservation. This led to a large consolidation of the socially deprived sections against the BJP. The party’s multi-caste coalition was tested again after the Supreme Court ordered a dilution of certain provisions in the Prevention of Atrocities (against SC/ST) Act. The issue led to sharp polarisation among upper caste groups and Dalit groups, leading to violent protests. The government brought an ordinance to nullify the order.

Sections within the BJP believe that the move played a big role in the party’s defeat in the Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan assembly elections last year.

Announcement of reservations for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) among upper castes was a move to win back the reportedly estranged but previously loyal supporters among upper castes. The policy was a clever step, as opposition parties found it difficult to oppose it.

The uncertainty which the BJP now faces is whether the gains of the EWS quota would be nullified by the ordinance to prevent a reduction in reserved jobs in higher educational institutions by the central government.

First Published: Mar 07, 2019 20:53 IST

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