New Delhi: The debate on the merits of the Reservation bill, which was passed in the lower house of Parliament on the last day of the winter session, saw ‘Mandal’ and ‘Kamandal’ join forces.
All the regional forces with mass following among the OBCs did support the Reservation bill, which ensures up to 10% quota for general caste poor, but did not conceal their anger against the BJP while doing so.
Except the JD(U), all the ‘Mandal’ parties, including BJP ally Apna Dal (S) and former ally RLSP, supported the bill but demanded that results of the caste census be made public and the OBC reservation be increased in proportion to the population of people belonging to this category.
“My worry is about not just the poor from the general classes of the society but about the backward classes. The OBCs make for 55-60 % of the country but they have been given only 27% reservation…I want to know what will the government do when it finds out that the OBC population in the country is much more than current estimates. Will our share in reservation increase?” Apna Dal (S) MP Anupriya Patel said in Lok Sabha during the debate.
RJD MP Pappu Yadav asked Thawar Chand Gehlot, the Union Social Justice minister who introduced the motion, about why his government was not putting before the public results of the caste census.
“This is a fabrication, a lie. Our leader [Lalu Prasad Yadav] has been pressing the government to release the details of the caste census. The BJP is throwing bait at the people. This is another jumla like the jumla of providing 2 crore jobs per year,” RJD MP Jay Prakash Narayan Yadav said representing his party’s views.
He also echoed the statements made by his party leader Tejashwi Yadav, who on Monday tweeted that if 15% population in this country [referring to upper castes] can get 10% reservation then the rest of the 85% should be given 90% reservation at any cost. “Jitni Hissedaari Utni Bhagedaari [reservation proportionate to population],” Yadav said was his party’s stance on the matter.
Another Bihar-based party with mass OBC appeal, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) which till recently was part of the NDA and now has switched to the RJD-led camp, also supported the move but with riders.
“Reservation for the economically weaker section is not the solution. It will not bring economic prosperity. Had it been successful then why are backward classes still backward even after seven decades of independence…According to us, reservation should be introduced on basis of representation in population. If it is done proportionately, once and for all reservation issue will be solved,” Khushwaha said.
Dharmendra Yadav of the Samajwadi Party said, “We have been pressing the centre to release information on the caste census. We know that report is ready. Backwards are more than 60% of the country so their share in reservation should be proportionate.”
He added that those for whom this bill has been introduced understand the intention behind bringing this bill at the end of the session, “it is being done by the same government that governed the country with an overwhelming majority for nearly five years and only at its fag end has remembered this cause.”
The ‘Mandal’ parties also proposed that reservation be extended to judicial services and in private sector as well.
While BJP secured a huge political victory when the bill proposed by its minister was approved with an overwhelming majority in the house, the politics around this bill may not be so one-sided outside the halls of Parliament.
Two allies of the BJP in UP, both of who have mass OBC appeals – Apna Dal (S) and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) have threatened to pull out of NDA if there demands aren’t met immediately.
The SBSP wants the quota within quota, recommended by the social justice committee, released by February 17, failing which SBSP “announce plans to contest all 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP,” the party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar has said.
On the other had Anupriya Patel has while alleging that BJP wants backwards to fight among themselves, said her party “would not compromise” with its self-respect.
Has the ‘Kamandal’ subsumed the ‘Mandal’ just before the crucial Lok Sabha polls? It may be too early to say but less than four months before the polls an interesting political battle may have just begun