Making a crucial political move before the Assembly elections scheduled for April-May this year, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai's Cabinet increased reservation, provided under the Backward Classes (BC) list, for the Panchamasali Lingayats and Vokkaligas. The state has also clearly demarcated sub-caste reservation among Scheduled Castes.
However, the cabinet scrapped reservation for religious Muslims in the state. Muslims will now have to claim reservation under Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota and not 2B category of the BC list.
The change in Karnataka's reservation policy came after the Karnataka High Court, responding to a petition, allowed the state government to decide on Panchamasali reservation without disturbing the constitutionally guaranteed reservation for the castes which are already covered under the 2A category.
What reservation do Panchamasalis get? Panchamasalis form about 80 percent of the Lingayat population, which in turn forms 17 percent of the state's population.
The community had staged a massive protest at Suvarna Soudha (Legislative Assembly) at Belagavi on 22 December 2022, demanding reclassification under 2A. With mounting pressure, the government has included this caste under 2D category of the BC list and increased the reservation for Lingayats from 5 percent to 7 percent.
Incidentally, Lingayats have been traditionally favouring the BJP in elections since mid-2000s.
What reservation do Vokkaligas get? Vokkaligas who form about 14 percent of the state's population will get seven percent reservation as against the five percent they were getting earlier under the BC list.
The Vokkaligas too are a significant voting bloc for the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in power in Karnataka, which has been wooing the community especially in the Old Mysuru region.
Those of Vokkaliga caste are heavily spread across 89 Assembly constituencies where Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) have considerable influence.
What reservation will Scheduled Castes get? Basavaraj Bommai also announced on Friday that "as per the Cabinet sub-committee's recommendations, the SC (Left) will get 6 percent, 5.5 per cent for SC (Right) will get, 4.5 percent for touchable Dalits and one percent for others."
This means that the state has assured internal reservation for the sub-castes among the Scheduled Castes. The Madigas or Left Dalits, who have been supporting the BJP electorally, get the chunk of the reservation. This, also because the community has been up in arms against the state government for sub-caste reservation. Madiga organisations staged a massive protest for internal reservation in December 2022.
What reservation will Muslims get? Muslims who form 12.92 percent of the state's population, will be at a disadvantage as per the new reservation policy. The four percent reservation provided to Muslims is now scrapped.
Muslims will now be included within the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) list. The government has not promised any demarcated percentage for the Muslims within the EWS quota. Muslims in the state have traditionally been supporters of the Congress.