On 10% Reservation to Economically Weak Sections in General Category

Mr. Kotha Prabhakar Reddy, Member Parliament, on 8 January 2019, sought a reply from Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, to the question (No. 4475) on ‘Reservation for Poor’. Mr. Reddy’s question was : (a) whether the Government is exploring the scope of providing reservation for poor candidates from forward communities for education and employment; (b) if so, the details thereof and if not, the reasons thereof; (c) whether the Government has received any demands from sections of forward communities like the Marathas in Maharashtra, Rajputs in Rajasthan and Thakurs in Uttar Pradesh to give reservation for economically weak members of their groups; and (d) if so, the details thereof and the action being taken by the Government in this regard?

The Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Mr. Krishan Pal Gujar replied : (a) and (b) : At present, no such proposal is under consideration. (c) and (d) : No such proposal has been received by the Government.     

On January 7, 2019, the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill 2019 on 10 percent reservation to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of the general category in education and employment was approved by the Central Cabinet. On January 8, the last day of the Winter Session, this ‘historic’ Amendment Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha and on January 9 in the Rajya Sabha by extending the Session by one day. And yet the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment gave the above information in response to the question in Parliament at around 11 am on January 8!

In the view of the Socialist Party, these facts tell us that the Modi government does not care about the parliamentary system, its dignity and its sanctity. The government did not put the Bill for debate in the arena of civil society nor did it send it to a Select Committee of the Parliament. Of course, the Government has declared this decision to be a ‘master stroke’ with the intention of winning the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This ‘master stroke’ of the government reminds one of V.P. Singh’s decision to implement the Mandal Commission’s recommendations in one stroke. V.P. Singh applied that ‘master stroke’ with the goal of finishing off his mentor Devi Lal in the battle of political dominance. But the difference in both the decisions is that the Mandal Commission was constituted by the Parliament and the Mandal Commission’s recommendations on reservation were in line with the basic structure of the Constitution and the concept of social justice as provided for in the Constitution. This decision of the present government is totally opposite to the basic structure of the Constitution and the constitutional concept of social justice, wherein reservation is given for socially backward communities who have suffered in the past.

The Socialist Party perceives this decision of the Modi Government as “historic” in the sense that now the political parties and the governments in India will not formulate their policies on the basis of the Directive Principles of the State (i.e. socialist system) as enshrined in the Constitution, that are aimed at building an egalitarian India by removing economic disparity and erasing caste discrimination. Rather they will continue to pursue the goal of making a ‘New India’ of the rich at the expense of the working classes under corporate capitalism. 

Almost all opposition parties have supported the Bill in both the Houses. The political leaders who have opposed it are guided by the electoral politics. They do not have a fundamental opposition to the government’s intention of destroying the basic structure of the Constitution.

The authenticity of those who are opposing this decision outside political parties, would be based on the criterion whether they are decisively opposing corporate capitalism or not and whether they are willing to understand the truth that Brahmanism-Manuism have been completely transformed into capitalism.

The Socialist Party would further like to state that with this decision the BJP has firmly embedded caste (apart from religion) in the political discourse of the country. It has therefore pushed the country into the pit of counter-revolution. Even after 70 years of Independence, there is no progress in the meaning of citizenship; rather it is progressively disappearing. In ‘New India’, the identity of a person will not be that of a citizen, but he/she will be recognised on the basis of religion and caste.

The Socialist Party opposes the Amendment Bill on two grounds: 1. This is contrary to the concept of reservation perceived by the makers of the Constitution; and 2. The government’s decision is the protection shield for neo-liberal policies under which the commercialisation of education and elimination of employment is being done.

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