Cabinet approves 10 pc quota for low income upper castes

New Delhi: With an eye on the upper caste vote in the coming Lok Sabha elections, the Union Cabinet on Monday approved 10 per cent reservation for economically backward people in general category in jobs and educational institutions.
The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took the decision to provide for 10 per cent quota for people belonging to “unreserved categories”, including Christians and Muslims, in jobs and education with an annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh and land holding ceiling of about five acres, highly-placed sources said.
A Constitution amendment bill for the purpose is likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The sources said the proposed move will not disturb the existing 50 per cent reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
“The quota will include sections not falling under any provision of reservation such as Brahmins, Banias, Thakurs, Jats, Gujjars, Muslims and Christians,” a source privy to the decision said. He said that rules will be framed in due course to implement the Cabinet decision.
The decision comes four months before the Lok Sabha polls and after the reverses suffered by BJP in the Assembly polls in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The BJP was said to have faced the wrath of the upper castes, especially in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, over the amendment brought by the Central government to nullify the Supreme Court judgement in the SC-ST Act last year.
Reacting to the decision, BJP MP Udit Raj said it was a “bold” decision.
However, former union minister Yashwant Sinha said the proposal was “nothing more than a jumla” which bristles with legal complications and there was no time for getting it passed in both the Houses of Parliament.
Meanwhile, citing the cap of 50 per cent on reservation, Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi called the Modi governments move of 10 per cent reservation for economically backward upper castes in jobs and educational institutions as an “election gimmick”.
Singhvi, among the first to inform on twitter about the cabinet’s approval to 10 per cent reservation to economically backward upper castes, questioned whether the Modi government had the majority in Parliament to carry out the Constitutional amendment.
“Did you (government) not think of this for 4 years and 8 months? So, obviously thought of as election gimmick 3 months before model code. You know you cannot exceed 50 per cent cap, so it is done only to posture that you tried unconstitutional thing,” Singhvi said on twitter.
“Forward reservation a gimmick to fool people, the 50-per cent cap continues to be law,” he said, citing the M R Balaji case in which the Supreme Court put a 50-per cent cap on reservations.
“Government only misleading nation. Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan tried exceeding 50 per cent quota but were struck down by court. Modi, BJP clearly think Indian public eats grass,” said Singhvi, adding that the move was a sign of Modi’s “fear and certainty of losing 2019 elections”.
Supreme Court advocate and nominated Rajya Sabha member K T S Tulsi said: “This looks like an attempt in the direction of abolishing the entire reservation system.”
However, the government defended the decision saying this was not aimed at placating the upper castes but was in keeping with the principle of “sabka saath, sabka vikas” (development for all). — IANS