The BJP government in Karnataka proposed an amendment to include the increased reservation quota for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC and STs) in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution.
The state made the proposal on Thursday, 23 March, nine days after Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment A Narayanaswamy told the Lok Sabha that no such recommendation was pending before the Central government.
“The Centre has not received any proposal from the Karnataka government” on hiking the quota for SCs and STs, the minister said in reply to a query by Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna, the lone JD(S) member in the House.
The proposal was made a day before Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the state, and a week before the Assembly poll notification.
Ball in Centre’s court
South First carried a detailed report on Karnataka’s delay in making the recommendation, even a month after Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the process to include the increase in reservation quota was underway.
With the state making the proposal, the ball is now in the Central government’s court.
The Karnataka Legislative Assembly unanimously passed the Reservation of Seats in Education Institutions and of Appointment or Posts in Services under the State Bill, 2022, in its winter session held in Belagavi on 26 December.
The Bill envisaged an increase of six percent over the existing 18 percent.
South First Debate: BJP’s politics of Reservation redistribution in Karnataka
Chief secretary writes to Centre
Karnataka Chief Secretary Vandita Sharma wrote to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla requesting the inclusion of the Karnataka Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Education Institutions and Appointment or Posts in Services under the State) Act of 2002 in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution.
The 9th Schedule is a list of Central and state laws that cannot be challenged in court.
The 14-page letter detailed the recommendations of the Justice HN Nagamohan Das Commission and its implementation by the Justice Subhash Adi Committee and others.
The letter highlighted a study conducted by the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru, which found that 74 percent of the tribal community in the state was marginalised, with a literacy rate of less than 3 percent.
The chief secretary also pointed out the need for reservations for the most deprived classes among the SCs and STs.
The chief secretary also cited various articles in the Constitution to defend the state government’s decision to provide the quota hike for SCs and STs.
Also read: BJP gets a taste of its own pill in poll-bound Karnataka
Bommai hits back at Opposition
Hitting back at the Opposition that questioned the BJP government’s commitment to SCs and STs, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai urged the political rivals to look in the mirror.
“I ask those people that questioned the commitment of the BJP government on providing quota hike for SCs and STs to take a look in the mirror,” he said in a series of tweets.
ಪರಿಶಿಷ್ಟ ಸಮುದಾಯಗಳ ಮೀಸಲಾತಿ ಹೆಚ್ಚಳದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಬದ್ಧತೆಯನ್ನು ಪ್ರಶ್ನಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವವರು ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಕನ್ನಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ತಮ್ಮ ಮುಖ ನೋಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲೇಬೇಕು. ಶೋಷಿತ ವರ್ಗಗಳು 40 ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ನಿಮ್ಮೆದುರು ಆಸೆ, ನಿರೀಕ್ಷೆ, ಭರವಸೆಗಳಿಂದ ಕೈಯೊಡ್ಡಿ ನಿಂತಿದ್ದವು.
— Basavaraj S Bommai (@BSBommai) March 23, 2023
“You (the Opposition) gave fake promises and got votes. It was the BJP that did not make any promise, but enriched the lives of SCs and STs by increasing the reservation. The oppressed communities are already getting the benefits of the quota hike,” he added.