In its last Cabinet meeting before the Karnataka Assembly elections, the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government gave it’s nod to two key decisions on reservations.
In what comes as a move to appease dominant communities in Karnataka, the Bommai Cabinet has hiked reservation to the Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities — but at the cost of reservations for Muslims.
The BJP-ruled government, on Friday, 24 March, decided to do away the four percent reservation quota for the religious minority Muslims under the 2B category of reservation for backward communities.
After making the 2B category redundant, the four percent reservation exclusively for Muslims will now be divided into two equal parts, and will be added to the existing quota for the Vokkaligas and the Lingayats for whom two new reservation categories — 2C and 2D — were created during the Belagavi Assembly session in December.
This was the last Cabinet meeting headed by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who told reporters that these important decisions had been taken in order to “provide justice” to everyone.
All these decisions were based on a Cabinet sub-committee’s recommendations that also decided to place the Muslims in 2B category in the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) category.
Cabinet nod to SC internal reservation
“There was a demand for an increase in reservations for the Scheduled Castes. There was a Cabinet sub-committee that recommended (this), and accordingly we have taken a decision where there will be six percent reservation for SC Left, 5.5 percent for SC Right, and 4.5 percent for ‘touchables’, and one percent for others,” Bommai said.
“Similarly, there was a demand for reorganisation of backward classes, and there was an interim report, and according to that we have taken a decision.”
“We have only two classes now — More Backward and Most Backward. In More Backward, we have shifted Backward from More Backward, and we have made 2C and 2D categories.
“For 2C — Vokkaligas — we have increased their reservation from four to six percent and for 2D Panchamasalis, Veerashaivalingayats and others we increased from five to seven percent, and this has come from 2B where religious minorities were holding it,” he added.
4% Muslim quota removed, ‘avail EWS’, says Bommai
“But as per the Constitution, and a Andhra Pradesh High Court judgement, we have shifted them (Muslims) to the 10 percent EWS pool and (their) four percent has been distributed,” Bommai explained.
Bommai said the religious minorities will be going from the four percent category to the 10 percent pool of the EWS group without any other changes.
The Cabinet, during the Belagavi Assembly session in December last year, did away with the 3A and 3B categories of reservation for Vokkaligas and Lingayats, respectively, placing them in the two new categories of 2C and 2D.
Backing the decision to take out religious minorities from the 2B reservation category, which is for the moderately backward community, Bommai said there is no constitutional provision for reservations for religious minorities.
In Andhra Pradesh, when the reservation for minorities was implemented, the court had struck it down, the chief minister said, adding that the architect of Indian Constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar, too, had said that reservation was only for castes.
Where Muslim reservations stand
“However, we cannot drop that community entirely. With a view that there should not be any problem for the religious minorities, if someone challenges reservation to them, we decided to take a proactive decision. In fact, they will go from four percent to the 10 percent pool of the EWS group without any change of condition,” PTI reported Bommai telling the Cabinet.
According to the chief minister, Muslims are divided into three reservation categories: Category 1, 2A and 2B.
The extremely backward religious minorities, who form the sub-castes of Muslims such as Pinjara, Nadaf, Daroji, and Chapparband, and are placed in the Category 1, will not be disturbed and will remain in the same reservation list, he said.
Similarly, Bommai said the government did not touch the Muslim communities in the 2A category.
“Some of the other Muslim sub-castes in the 2B category will not be disturbed. They will only be shifted to the EWS quota,” Bommai added.
A recommendation has already been sent to the Centre to include two shepherd communities — Kadu Kuruba and Gonda Kuruba, spread over four districts — to the Scheduled Tribes (STs) list.
Further, the Centre has made some references about two to three communities, including Kadu Gollaru and Koli communities, asking us for out opinion, Bommai said, adding that the government will notify the communities under the EWS category.
Also Read: In split verdict, SC upholds EWS reservation
Opposition parties see malice
Karnataka Legislative Assembly Deputy Opposition leader UT Khader told South First: “This is purely a politically motivated decision by the BJP government. It is unconstitutional.”
“BJP’s main agenda is anti-reservation. It’s ultimate goal is to eradicate the reservation system in the country,” Khader condemned the Bommai government’s decision taking away the reservation of religious minorities.
He further said: “We have no qualms over giving more reservation to Vokkaligas and Panchamasalis, but not at the cost of minorities. They are giving extra reservations to those communities that are already enjoying quota benefits. It is not correct.”
“The ultimate goal is to create confusion among the people over reservations and make it a big legal issue. Then, eradicate reservations for the oppressed communities,” charged Khader.
On whether the party or he will take legal action on the Bommai government’s decision, he said: “The religious heads of the minorities will take a call. I will vehemently oppose this decision of the government.”
“EWS quota is already full. Where will they accommodate religious minorities? The government taking away the existing reservation and providing it to the other communities is completely unconstitutional. This shows the BJP’s concern toward Muslims,” said Khader.
Law minister defends Cabinet decision
Meanwhile, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs JC Madhuswamy told South First: “The state government has not snatched reservation from religious minorities, instead we are accommodating them in EWS.”
“They will get better opportunities in terms of reservation in the EWS quota. We are placing them in a better position. Minorities will get more benefits,” Madhuswamy said, denying the allegation that the BJP government was depriving the minorities of reservation benefits.
On whether the state government consulted the prime minister or any central leaders before making its decision, Madhuswamy said: “I do not know. I can’t comment on this.”
“We have taken Muslims into confidence before announcing this decision. We have only proposed this to the Centre, which will take a final call as it is supreme in this matter,” added Madhuswamy.
On whether it will backfire on the BJP, which is trying to gain the confidence of minorities, mainly Muslims, in the Assembly polls, he said: “We have not taken this decision to please or deceive any communities. This decision will benefit minorities more than any other community in the coming days.”
“The Centre’s EWS quote has a 10 percent reservation. Hardly two to three percent of the people are left. We will accommodate them as per the EWS norms of the Union government,” stated Madhuswamy.