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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Centre clears 10 per cent quota for economically weak in general category

The Narendra Modi government is ready with a bill to introduce 10 per cent reservation for economically backward sections. The constitution amendment bill will be introduced in parliament tomorrow, the last day of the Winter Session.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2019 17:43 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Modi government has cleared 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker upper castes
Modi government has cleared 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker upper castes (Photo | Hindustan Times )

The central government has cleared a 10 per cent quota in jobs and educational institutions for economically weaker sections, sources told Hindustan Times after a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The decision comes months before the government’s tenure is to end and the country heads into election mode.

Main opposition party the Congress has called it an “election gimmick”; Dalit leader Ramdas Athawale described the decision “a masterstroke”.

The centre is ready with a Constitution amendment bill which will be introduced in parliament tomorrow, the last day of the Winter Session. The bill seeks to amend two constitutional provisions, Articles 15 and 16, which prohibit discrimination on any grounds in jobs and admissions to educational institutions.

People who have an annual income less than 8 lakh, own less than 5 acre farm land, have house smaller than 1,000 sq feet in a town or a 100 sq yard house in notified municipal area would qualify for the proposed quotas.

The move, a BJP leader hinted, would come in handy to deal with reservation demands from communities that had been demanding that they be counted as other backward classes, or OBCs that have 27 per cent quota for government jobs and admission to educational institutions.

It would also help the national coalition led by the BJP to consolidate its the upper caste vote, considered one of the three crucial pillars of the BJP’s support base. The other backward classes (OBC), and the new Dalit sub-castes who shifted loyalties, are considered the other two pillars.

The BJP, which had gone to great lengths to neutralise the dilution of the SC/ST atrocities law last year, had ended up antagonising the upper castes far beyond what it had anticipated. In the recent assembly elections where it lost three states to the Congress, there had been anecdotal evidence that the upper castes had, in some cases, shifted.

The Congress saw the Cabinet decision as posturing ahead of the general elections.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the government did not think about this for four years and eight months and brought this just months before the model code of conduct coming into effect.

He also asked whether the government has the majority to bring about a Constitution amendment in Parliament.

“Why did you not think of this for four years and eight months? So obviously thought of as election gimmick three months before the model code. You know that you cannot exceed 50 per cent maxima so it is done only to posture that you tried,” he said in a tweet.

First Published: Jan 07, 2019 14:35 IST

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