Poll Sops? 10% Job, Edu Quota for Economically Weaker Upper Castes
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo: Reuters)

Poll Sops? 10% Job, Edu Quota for Economically Weaker Upper Castes

Ahead of the general election, the Union Cabinet on Monday, 7 January, approved a 10 percent reservation for economically backward upper castes in government jobs and education, news agency ANI reported, citing sources.

The reservation benefit is likely to be availed by those with annual income below Rs 8 lakh and who have up to five acres of land, PTI quoted sources as saying.

As the reservation will be over and above the existing 50 percent reservation, the government is likely to bring a constitutional amendment bill in Parliament on Tuesday, 8 January.

Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution will have to be amended for implementation of the decision, sources added.

However, with Tuesday being the last day of the winter session, it could be difficult for MPs to debate on the bill and pass it with a 2/3rd majority in both the houses of Parliament.

News agency ANI reported BJP has issued a whip to party MPs to be present in Lok Sabha tomorrow.

Political Parties React

Congress described the government's decision of quota for economically backward sections in the general category as an "election gimmick" and accused the BJP of posturing ahead of the national elections.

Party Spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told PTI the government did not think about this for four years and eight months, and brought this up 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 percent. So it is done only to posture that you tried.”
Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi

Speaking at a press conference, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, the Congress party will support the government's bid to provide reservation in jobs. But the basic question which still remains is, when and how will the jobs be generated in the first place?

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will support the government, provided it extends the parliamentary session and brings the required constitutional amendment. Else, Kejriwal said, the move will prove to be an election stunt.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said, “Reservations are not meant to address economic issues, but to alleviate the backward sections. For economically poorer sections, jobs need to be created.”

"The government has not fulfilled any of the promises they had made. The Constitution has provision for reservation only on the basis of social backwardness. As far as amendment in the Constitution is concerned, how will they be able to do that with just two days remaining in the Parliament session," Patidar leader Hardik Patel questioned.

LJP leader Chirag Paswan said, “It was a long-standing demand of our party and we are happy that this decision has been taken. Nobody should politicise this decision.”

AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi said, "Reservations are meant to correct historical injustice to Dalits. For poverty alleviation, one may run various schemes but reservations are meant for justice. Constitution doesn’t permit reservations on economic grounds."

(With inputs from PTI and ANI.)

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