Quota for economically weaker sections creates sharp divisions

·4-min read

in caste, political outfits in Kerala Kochi, Oct 28 (PTI) The decision of the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala to implement 10 per cent reservation in government jobs for the economically weaker section (EWS) among forward communities has created sharp divisions among the caste, religious and political organisations in the state.

A crack is visible in the opposition Congress-led UDF over the issue with its key partner Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) strongly opposing the move.

Besides the IUML, the SNDP Yogam, an organisation of numerically strong backward Hindu Eazhava community, has also opposed the way the new policy is being implemented in the state.

The SNDP yogam led by its leader Vellappally Natesan is considered close to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

At the same time, the Nair Service Society (NSS), an outfit of the forward Nair community, and Syrian Catholic Church have come out openly in favour of reservation for the financially weaker section in the general category.

Seeking to allay the concerns of Muslim League and SNDP Yogam over the new reservation provision for the financially backward section in the general category, the Chief Minister has said the new law does not undermine the benefit enjoyed by any existing category.

Stepping up their pressure, a meeting of the IUML and other outfits opposing its implementation on Wednesday urged the three mainstream political fronts, including ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, opposition UDF spearheaded by the Congress and BJP-led NDA, to clarify their stand on the controversial matter.

The meeting held here urged the state government not to implement the decision till the constitution bench of the Supreme Court gives its verdict on the plea challenging the Constitutional amendment to implement the reservation for EWS in forward communities.

Archbishop of the Changanassery archdiocese of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Joseph Perumthottam, on Wednesday strongly backed the decision to implement 10 per cent reservation to EWS categories among forward communities, saying the ruling LDF government took such a decision overcoming huge political and communal pressure.

In an article written in the church organ, Deepika daily, the archbishop hit out at the IUML for opposing the new reservation for EWS among the forward community, saying it reveals the communal nature of that party.

He noted that only two IUML MPs and one MP of AIMIM had opposed the bill on economic reservation in Parliament.

'This is the proof of the communal nature of Muslim League in the political stand taken by them,' Perumthottam said.

The Church leader attacked the Congress-led UDF for not declaring its stand on the issue.

He questioned the state Congress for not falling in line with the party's national leadership which has favoured the economic reservation.

In the article which assessed the stand of various parties including the BJP, Congress and Communists on the issue of economic reservation, the archbishop also criticised the UDF for its move to forge alliance with Welfare Party, a political offshoot of Jamaat-e-Islami in the state.

'How can secularists agree with such an alliance?' he asked, attacking the state Congress for its move.

The priest's article came two days after NSS general secretary G Sukumaran Nair issued a statement in Changanassery, seeking intervention of authorities to make corrections in some of the conditions set by the state government in implementing 10 per cent reservation for the weaker sections among forward communities in government jobs.

Noting that the Central government initiated the Constitutional amendment to implement the reservation for EWS in forward communities in January 2019, Nair said the state government approved the proposal only on January 3, 2020.

He said it took another eight months for the state government to bring changes to the Kerala State and Subordinate Rules (KSSR) to implement the reservation, despite issuing an order on February 12, 2020.

In this context, the 10 per cent reservation should be implemented with retrospective effect to ensure reservation for EWS reservation candidates, Nair has said.

On January 7 2019, the Union Council of Ministers had approved a 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the economically weaker section in the general category.

The state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, recently decided the criteria for reservation after considering the recommendations of a two- member commission headed by retired Judge K Sasidharan Nair and member Advocate K Rajagopalan Nair.

'The eligible candidates will be selected on the basis of the income of the family and their financial backwardness,' a state government release had said.

Currently, 50 per cent reservation is set aside for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Communities.PTI TGB BN WELCOME BN WELCOME