Some political parties are calling the government’s decision to introduce 10% reservation to EWS a ‘jumla’. This criticism will fall flat if the Bill is passed in Parliament.
On Monday news reports said that the Union Cabinet decided to grant 10% reservation to economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category in admission to educational institutions and recruitment for government jobs. This will be in addition to the existing 50% cap to Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). News reports also said that the government will introduce a Bill in Parliament on Tuesday.
While opposition parties have welcomed the move they’ve raised doubts about the government’s intentions of bringing such a legislation with hardly two months to go before the model code of conduct is expected to kick in. A constitutional amendment would require two-third approval from the House and would also have to stand the test of legal scrutiny. It is not sure if the government has the required data and proof to show that there is a need for this 10% reservation — the absence of such data could be backfire if the move is legally contested.
Irrespective of the outcome, the government has shown the willingness to address a grouse of a section of society, especially of the upper castes. Analyst believe that the upper castes were unhappy after the Modi government, in August, overturned the Supreme Court order on the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. This sentiment was evident in the poll results in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. With this Bill the government is trying to appease the upper castes.
The move for 10% reservation might earn the Modi government political brownie points but it exposes a failure of the current government — to create adequate jobs and educational opportunities. In 2014, Modi came to power on a development plank, promising jobs and improving the educational sector. At the end of this government’s term if it has turn to reservations, it reflects poorly on those promises made then. If the government’s argument is that it is a step in the right direction — what prevented it from executing it in 2014 as soon as it came to power?
Some have called this another ‘jumla’ by the government and there could be a point to it — but that criticism will fall flat if the government manages to pass the Bill before the model code of conduct sets in.
When seen from the fact that elections are round the corner, the move to introduce the Bill for 10% reservation is an astute political move by the Modi government. This is because in the theatre of electoral politics in India, often it is the professing of the intention to act that is important — and at times more important than the action itself.For more Opinion pieces, click here.