A day after the BJP-led government announced 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education for economically weaker sections in the general category, Mayawati supported the move but called it an “election stunt and political gimmick”. Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party also backed the move, but demanded more quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
The massive move just months before the national polls was cleared at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. It addresses perception that the upper castes, always a staunch support base of the BJP, are drifting away from the ruling party.
Mayawati, the chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), said the decision was taken in an “immature” way and without preparation. “Our party, however, welcomes the decision though it appears to be an election stunt and political gimmick of BJP ahead of Lok Sabha polls,” Mayawati said in a statement.
Other opposition parties have also questioned the timing of the government decision, but they have also extended support to it, reflecting its political significance. The BJP has termed the government decision “historic”.
Mayawati said her party had demanded reservation for economically weak Muslims and other minority communities but the BJP did not do justice to them and that is condemnable.
“The party had written to the government but the centre took a narrow and communal stand and provided the benefit to only a particular section (upper caste), which is injustice for other sections,” she said.
“In reality, there should be review of reservation provided to SC/ST and OBC and these sections should be provided reservation as per their population by increasing their quota by amending the constitution,” she said.
Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav said OBCs should also have been given quota according to their population. “If the government is crossing the lakshman rekha (50 per cent Supreme Court limit), then OBCs should be given 54% quota,” he said.
The government has tabled a constitutional amendment bill in Parliament to enable quota over and above the 50 per cent cap on quota established by the Supreme Court.
People who earn less than Rs 8 lakh a year and have up to five acres of land will be eligible for the quota.