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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Congress stands exposed as it plays OBC card in Madhya Pradesh

File photo: Kamal Nath Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India Mar 20, 2019, 11.54 AM (IST) Written By: Lalit Shastri

The Madhya Pradesh Congress government led by chief minister Kamal Nath has blatantly tried to pursue vote bank politics by raising reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) from 14 per cent to 27 per cent ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

The move received a major jolt on Tuesday when the Madhya Pradesh high court issued an order staying the Ordinance promulgated by the state Governor earlier this month to almost double the quota for OBCs.

The Madhya Pradesh Ordinance, now under judicial review, was passed on the plea that circumstances existed and since the Legislative Assembly was not in session, it was necessary to take immediate action in this regard. 

Tuesday’s High Court order notwithstanding, Chief Minister Kamal Nath is not ready to concede ground. He has responded to queries by media-persons by citing the example of Tamil Nadu and stating that other states too have gone in for reservation exceeding the 50 per cent limit prescribed and mandated by the Supreme Court.  

Moving in the same direction as Tamil Nadu, even Maharashtra has chosen to grant 16 per cent reservation in jobs and admissions in academic institutions to the Marathas. The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh joined the bandwagon and soon after assuming office, Kamal Nath also went ahead and announced that OBCs will be given 27 per cent reservation in the state.  This announcement, no doubt, was made keeping in view the role to be played by nearly 50 per cent voters belonging to the OBC category in Madya Pradesh.

For immediate gains, political parties scramble for votes. They resort to vote bank politics and take reckless actions. The Madhya Pradesh Ordinance for hiking the quota for OBCs is a case in point. After the High Court order has come as a roadblock for Kamal Nath, he has tried to draw sustenance by pointing to other states. The question arises, in the first place, is it proper for states such as Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra to exceed the 50 per cent cap on the reservation and put the same in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution to avoid judicial review.

When the Supreme Court has fixed a 50 per cent cap, the thumb rule should be straight and without ambiguity. Political parties, both ruling and in the Opposition, should ensure overall reservation for SCs/STs and OBCs does not exceed 50  per cent as laid down by the Supreme Court of India, and anybody applying for a seat or job under the quota shall not be eligible for general merit seat.

The quota system in its present form is causing reverse social discrimination and it leads to more and more forward communities clamouring for Other Backward Classes (OBC) status and governments succumbing due to electoral pressures.

The anti-quota movement which had picked up great momentum in Madhya Pradesh 2016 onwards, riding on the crest of the popular demand that reservation should be on an economic criterion, was a major factor leading to BJP’s defeat in the 2018 Assembly election. Kamal Nath’s move to hike reservation for OBCs has been seen as a move aimed at wooing the OBCs and diluting people’s upsurge on the reservation issue. But even before the Congress party could take stock of what it was ultimately going to gain by moving in this direction, it has been stopped in its path by the high court but not before it stands completely exposed when it comes to vote bank politics.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)

Lalit Shastri

Lalit Shastri is an Indian journalist, editor, environmentalist and a wildlife film maker

Story highlights

The quota system in its present form is causing reverse social discrimination