The decision of the Union Cabinet to accord 10 per cent reservation to the economically weaker sections among the general category is an electoral ploy. This decision comes a day before the current session of Parliament is scheduled to end with an eye on the forthcoming general elections. It is also an admission of the abject failure of the Modi government to create employment in the past four and a half years.
This issue has been under discussion since the Mandal Commission days. The CPI(M) had then said and continues to maintain that such a measure is required. This Cabinet decision, however, is coming without any consultation, particularly when the criteria to determine the beneficiaries of such a step has been fixed for those with family income less than Rs. 8 lakhs per annum and other criteria which raises the question whether this reservation will really benefit those truly deprived. The two-day countrywide industrial strike that began today is demanding a guaranteed minimum wage of Rs. 18,000 per month, i.e., Rs. 2.16 lakhs per annum. Even this is not being given by this government.
The Modi government refused to act on this issue all these years. The timing of the present Cabinet decision completely exposes this BJP-led NDA government’s desperation to muster support for its electoral fortunes after its defeat in the recently held five state assembly elections.
This measure requires amendment to Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution. An amendment to the Constitution requires time and also the approval of the majority of the state legislatures before it comes into effect. The haste with which the Union Cabinet has decided, completely exposes the Modi government’s intentions of using this issue just to get electoral dividends.
The policies pursued by the Modi government have, instead of generating employment, led to loss of existing jobs. The existing quotas for SC/ST and OBCs are not being filled up. Benefits of reservations are increasingly eroded by the pursuit of aggressive neo-liberal policies and by keeping the private sector outside its purview.
The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) demands widespread consultations before any such Constitutional amendment is brought before Parliament.