17 Jan, 2012, 04.04AM IST, Bharti Jain,ET Bureau
UP elections: Congress to promise MBC sub-quota within 27% reservation for OBCs'
NEW DELHI: Congress is readying to redress discontent over its plans
to promise a sub-quota for minorities by pledging itself to yet more
reservation, this time for the Most Backward Castes (MBCs) in Uttar
Pradesh. It is set to declare in its election manifesto a sub-quota
for MBCs within the 27% reservation for the Other Backward Classes.
The move follows disquiet among dominant OBCs over its plans to
reserve 9% jobs for Backwards among Muslims. While carving out yet
another slice from the reservation pie will not go well with the main
beneficiaries of the reservation for OBCs, such as Yadavs and Kurmis,
the party sees greater benefit in wooing the more numerous MBCs that
comprise 70% of the OBC population in the state.
Though Congress has given a large representation to Kurmis, it does
not enjoy the support of Yadavs anyway. It hopes its move will help
thwart the Bharatiya Janata Party's attempts to polarise castes, such
as Kushwahas, Nishads, Koeris, Nonias, Rajbhars and Lodhs, in its
"The grievances of MBCs have to be addressed," Congress general
secretary Digvijaya Singh told ET, "The party, if voted to power, will
study the experience of reservation in the past two decades and ensure
that the not-so-well-off among Backwards get the benefits of quota."
Social scientists argue that this proposal is workable. "The formula
of quota within quota was successfully utilised for expanding the
socio-political base of Congress by Devraj Urs in the late 1960s as
chief minister of Karnataka. The second successful use of this formula
for consolidating hold over state power was made by Nitish Kumar as
chief minister of Bihar. Therefore, it has obvious potential as it
addresses the limits of Mandal, which ignores the presence of dominant
caste syndrome within the OBC category of castes within Hindus and
Muslims," said Anand Kumar, professor of sociology at the Jawaharlal
Even as the Election Commission put on hold the Centre's move to
reserve 4.5% jobs for Backwards among minorities in the five
poll-bound states, law minister Salman Khurshid created a stir by
promising a 9% sub-quota in state jobs for minorities in Uttar
Digvijaya Singh, too, defended the minority sub-quota, saying it was
merely aimed at correcting the social imbalances. He reminded that the
promise was also part of the party's manifesto in the 2009 Lok Sabha
elections. Congress-ruled states such as Andhra Pradesh have already
enacted similar laws, Singh said, adding that governments can no
longer ignore demands for proportional representation in government
jobs. "If you want to keep the country together, you will have to
address the causes for the alienation of Muslims," Singh said, "We
cannot forget the fact that we have a Muslim population larger than
that of Pakistan."
Congress, which is meeting representatives of important caste
groupings, is also confronted with a demand for a sub-categorisation
of the quota for Scheduled Castes, the main beneficiaries of which
have been Jatavs. Dalit public intellectual Chandrabhan Prasad said
sub-categorisation of Dalits will not be a good idea. "There is no
empirical evidence to suggest that Jatavs are better off than other
sections of Dalits. Since Jatavs form the largest group among Dalits,
they are more visible. But, mind you, there are more non-Jatavs
elected to Parliament that Jatavs," Chandrabhan said.
This argument is backed by a section of the Congress. "Congress may
have to work on what Nitish Kumar did for the Mahadalits in Bihar,"
said a leader who did not wish to be named, referring to the Bihar
chief minister's initiatives to introduce welfare schemes for the
most-backward sections of the Dalit population in the state.
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