Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Quota politics

Quota politics
CAMIL PARKHE | Friday, 28 August 2015
Patel, Gujarat, riots, reservation, BJP, caste, Politics, Camil Parkhe, India, blog
The Patels from Gujarat are the latest community in the country to come on the streets to seek reservations for them. The massive agitation in the stronghold of the BJP has naturally unnerved the party, forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make a fervent appeal to the community to maintain calm. The apex court in the country has already put restrictions on the percentage of quota that can be reserved for various castes and other communities. But that has not prevented politicians from playing to the gallery during the poll campaigns to assure quota to various communities. This has emboldened more and more communities in different parts of the country to seek reservations.
In Maharashtra, some leaders of the Maratha community had been demanding quota for their community. Knowing the legal positions, the Congress-NCP government during its 15-year-old consecutive rule in the state had ignored the demand. But the Prithviraj Chavan led government had announced quota for the Marathas and also for the Muslims just a few months before going to the assembly polls. As was expected, now the courts have struck down reservation for the Maratha caste while the BJP-Shiv Sena government has different views on the reservations for the minority Muslim community. As a part of the Lok sabha and Assembly polls campaign, the BJP had also assured reservations to the Dhangar community in Maharashtra. After coming to power both at the Centre and in the state, the party has not made any concrete moves in this regard.
The issue of quota has been controversial since the makers of the Constitution made provisions for the same in 1950s. The Sikhs, although not Hindus, were later included in the scheduled caste category to accommodate the dalits in this religious community. A few decades later even the dalits who had embraced Buddhism following in the footsteps of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar were included in the Scheduled Caste category by the government led by V P Singh. Since then many states have passed legislations to provide the benefits of the reservation facility to the communities having significant vote banks. The issue of religion-based reservations, that is reservations for dalit Christians or the backward Muslims has also always remained controversial.
As long as the quota facility is available to some communities, the other communities will be tempted to seek similar benefits for themselves too, irrespective of their social, economic or political status. The politicians too will continue to make tall promises to their vote banks to capture or to retain power. At the same time, due to political reasons, there is no possibility of scrapping the prevalent quota system although these reservations were meant to be only for some specific period. It is a piquant situation the country has landed in and there does not seem to be any solution to the issue.

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