The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies on Monday praised the government's decision to give 10 per cent reservation to "economically weaker" sections from the general category as a "historic" step and a "masterstroke", while the Congress termed it as a poll gimmick to fool people but said it will support the bill. In a major move ahead of the Lok Sabha election 2019, the Union Cabinet on Monday cleared a 10 per cent job and education quota for "economically weaker" sections, meeting a key demand of upper castes, a staunch BJP support base which has shown signs of a drift from the party.
Among the major castes to benefit from the proposed law are Brahmins, Rajputs (Thakurs), Jats, Marathas, Bhumihars, several trading castes, Kapus and Kammas among other Upper Castes.
A constitutional amendment bill is likely to be tabled in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Here’s how parties reacted:
# BJP: BJP vice-president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe described the reservation for upper castes as a step to widen the social justice net. "Congratulations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the historic decision of extending job quotas for economically weaker sections. A commendable step widening the social justice net and underscoring the inclusive approach of the government," he said.
# Congress: Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party has always backed every step for reservation and extended support to the economically poor sections of society irrespective of caste, community or creed. "Without interfering with the constitutional mandate of reservation given to Dalits, adivasis and backward classes in any manner, we have always supported that those who are genuinely poor and who are not covered under these sections may also be given benefit of opportunities and reservation, both in education and employment," Surjewala said.
# 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. "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.
# RPI (Athawale): Party leader Ramdas Athawale described the decision as a masterstroke which could end the difference between the upper and lower caste. "The issue of reservation caused a lot of conflict between Dalits and Savarnas. My demand has always been for 25 per cent reservation for the upper caste poor, 10 per cent is a good initiative. It is a masterstroke and Modi is a strong batsman," Athawale, who is a scheduled caste leader from Maharashtra, said.
# Lok Janshakti Party: The Lok Janshakti Party hailed as "historic" the government's decision, saying the poor from all castes and religions deserve support.
# TMC: West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said she would be happy if people from weaker sections get a job but questioned the NDA dispensation on constitutionally and legality of the quota.
# AAP: Party’s national convener Arvind Kejriwal said his party will support the NDA government on the constitutional amendment bill for giving 10 per cent quota to "economically weaker" sections but termed the move as merely an "election stunt".
# CPI(M): Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also welcomed the move. "The decision is nothing but an election jumla. We doubt the government's seriousness in the entire move," said Sudhakar Reddy, CPI general secretary.
# National Conference: “Reservation for economically backward upper castes. The bugle announcing the elections has well & truly sounded,” Omar Abdullah tweets.
# Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti: Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel said he would welcome it if the decision is implemented Constitutionally and without delay and hoped that it would not turn out to be a "lollipop" like the one offered by the Anandiben Patel government in Gujarat earlier. "We are neither accepting nor rejecting the (Centre's) decision at this stage. The decision is welcome if it is implemented successfully and without delay," Patel said.
(With PTI inputs)