Is 10 % quota an electoral gimmick by Modi Govt!
Is 10 % quota an electoral gimmick by Modi Govt! | Credit: Financialexpress

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Is 10 % quota an electoral gimmick by Modi Govt!

Jan 11, 2019

Indian Prime minister, Narendra Modi has proved himself as a unrivalled political mastermind by announcing 10 percent reservation for financially weaker people coming under the general category. The Lok Sabha passed the 124th constitution bill, 2019 to favour the people belonging to upper caste and earning below 8 lakh. The bill reservation is valid for central as well as educational government jobs, including private higher educational institutions.

Nearly, 323 members of the Lok Sabha were in favour of the bill to bring changes to the Articles 15 and 16 and enable reservation to the poor while three members voted against it. After a five-hour long discussion about the reservation, the bill was taken to the joint Parliament committee. 

The topic was debated between the upper house of the Parliament and other members of the party as a few of them quoted that there were many loopholes in the bill and were skeptical about the government's hurry in passing it. 

The bill was passed to Rajya Sabha on 10th of January and started off with 165 members voting for it and 7 going against it. After 10 hours of discussion and a stiff resistance from the members of Congress and other parties, the government introduced the amendments in the constitution for reserving seats for economically backward people falling under the general category.

The proposed bill is to create changes upon the existing reservation where 50 percent of the reservation will be enjoyed by the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes.

How others react?

A lot of political leaders including Arvind Kejriwal have welcomed the initiative while a few of them have called it as another "political jumla"

Congress Rajya Sabha member Anand Sharma stated that the bill was introduced to increase BJP's chance of winning the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. The government has deliberately announced the reservation to create a wave among the masses.

Similarly, BSP supremo Mayawati has remarked about the bill being an "election stunt and political gimmick" ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. She justified it saying that it would have been better had the BJP taken the decision much earlier. The reservation criteria for the SC, ST, and OBCs must be revised before introducing the changes.

Can the state government stop this?

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified in the Lok Sabha that the state governments cannot go against the center's decision but can fix the income criteria to decide if the individual is eligible to receive the reservation.

Jaitley has also removed the legal hurdles that will disturb the proposed quota as it deals with economically weaker classes. He has made sure that the benefits reach the masses irrespective of their caste, race, religions, place of birth etc. He has stated that “50% imposed by the Supreme Court on quota was only applicable to the reservation given to SC/STs and other socially and educationally backward classes”

 Will it backfire just like demonetisation?

Modiji has proved himself to be a politician par excellence by retaining the upper class voters on his side. But at the same time, it can lead to unanticipated consequences as the SC & STs and other backward classes are more likely to go against the Modi government. 

Just like the demonetisation move by the government, most of the experts believe that 10% quota will not benefit the poor. But the reservation politics is not new to India like demonetisation. Dr. Manmohan Singh, before 2014 election attempted to touch the 50% reservation policy but it was rejected by the Supreme court. Hence, it is more likely that the current government, just for the sake of electoral benefits, is trying to convince the poor by proposing the less possible 10% quota.