The West Bengal government on Tuesday introduced 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and state-run educational institutions for the economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category.
The decision came six months after the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre approved a proposal to grant 10 percent reservation to EWS candidates of general category.
"It's a historic decision. There are many factors to define someone who belongs to the economically weaker section. These details will be mentioned in the government order that will be issued soon," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said.
The details about the eligibility criteria for it would be announced later, but those who are already covered by other quotas will not be considered for this reservation, he told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
Backward Classes Welfare Minister Rajib Banerjee said the reservation would be for the people from the general classes.
"Reservation for the SCs, STs and OBCs remain as they are. This new quota is for those outside the three specified categories," Banerjee said.
On January 7, the Union Cabinet cleared a 10 per cent job and education quota for economically weaker sections in the general category, meeting a key demand of upper castes ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha cleared the bill on January 8 and 9 respectively, and it was signed by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The quota will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
Leader of the opposition in the state assembly, Abdul Mannan, senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty as well as the BJP's Manoj Tigga welcomed the move.
"It's the result of years of struggle. Though we are happy, we are concerned over the process of identification. We want a foolproof system to ensure that only deserving ones are identified as beneficiaries," Mannan said.
"I think the West Bengal government has woke up late. Our party in the Centre has already introduced it. It's good to see that the state is following the Centre's footsteps. But we are concerned about the identification process of the beneficiaries," Tigga said.