Three months ago — 26 December to be precise — the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government in Karnataka passed a Bill in the Assembly to increase the reservation quota for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) by six percent.
But the government is yet to forward the proposal to the Union government to include the quota hike in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution.
The Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointment or Posts in Services under the State) Bill, 2022, was passed unanimously in the Assembly‘s winter session in Belagavi.
While introducing the Bill, the government had said that it would propose to the Centre to include the hike in reservation for SC/STs in the Constitution’s 9th Schedule.
Replying to a query in the Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment A Narayanaswamy said that the Centre “has not received any proposal from the Karnataka government” on hiking the quota for SC/STs by six percent over the existing 18 percent.
The 9th Schedule is a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in courts.
Karnataka blames technical glitch
Karnataka’s Water Resources Minister Govind Karjol attributed the delay in sending the proposal to “a technical glitch”.
“The Bill, giving a six percent quota hike to SC/STs, has been passed unanimously in the Assembly and the Legislative Council in Karnataka. The Union government will include it in the 9th Schedule (of the Constitution) and the necessary works are underway,” the senior BJP leader from the SC community said.
“There are some technical glitches, which are being rectified. We will appeal to the Union government to initiate necessary action to give the promised quota hike to Dalits,” he further stated.
“The Union government’s reply to the Hassan MP has come to my notice,” he said, referring to the Centre’s statement in the Lok Sabha on the matter.
“The BJP government has achieved a historic feat by initiating necessary steps at the state level. We will ensure that the quota hike is made available at the earliest,” Karjol added.
South First Debate: BJP’s politics of Reservation redistribution in Karnataka
No proposal to hike quota: Centre
Minister Narayanaswamy’s reply to Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna, came more than a month after Bommai announced that the process to include the increase in reservation quota was underway.
The JD(S)’s lone member in the Lok Sabha, Revanna, sought to know if the Union government was planning to increase the reservation of SC/STs from the existing 15 percent to 17 percent, and 3 to 7 percent, respectively, in Karnataka.
“No, there is no such proposal pending with the department,” Narayanaswamy replied.
No pending requests
The Hassan MP further asked if any proposal was pending with the Union government to remove the 50 percent ceiling on reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs.
Replying in the negative, Narayanaswamy said: “As per the government of Karnataka, the reservation has been enhanced by a state Act, the Karnataka Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes Ordinance, 2022. The reservation percentage of SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities is 17, 7 and 32, respectively, and the total quota stands at 56 percent.”
Revanna also probed if the Union government had received any proposal from Karnataka to increase the reservation quota for SCs and STs.
“No such representation has been received,” Narayanaswamy replied.
Though the proposal has not been forwarded to the Centre, it has not stopped the BJP from highlighting the hiked quota in its campaign for the 2023 Assembly polls.
Centre’s earlier clarification
Incidentally, the Union government had in December last stated in the Rajya Sabha that there was no proposal before it to increase the SC/ST quota by six percent.
The hike in the SC/ST reservation would take the total reservation to 56 percent in Karnataka, breaching the 50 percent ceiling.
The Constitution has to be amended by including the hiked quota in the Ninth Scheduled to implement the increase in reservation quota.
Narayanaswamy’s reply in the Lok Sabha was the second time the central government denied receiving any proposal to increase the reservation quota for SC/STs.
Also read: Legislators, caste leaders quit BJP ahead of polls. What is the impact?
BJP betrayed the people: Congress
After the Union government’s clarification on the quota-hike proposal, the Congress hit out at the ruling BJP government in Karnataka, saying the people have been betrayed.
“The BJP leaders created a huge uproar over giving a quota hike to SC/STs but they have betrayed the people of the community,” the Congress tweeted.
ಪರಿಶಿಷ್ಟ ವರ್ಗಗಳ ಮೀಸಲಾತಿ ಹೆಚ್ಚಳದ ಕುರಿತು ಹಿಂದೆ ಅಬ್ಬರಿಸಿ ಬೊಬ್ಬಿರಿದಿದ್ದ ಒಳಗೊಳಗೇ ದ್ರೋಹದ ಚೂರಿ ಹಾಕಿದೆ.
ಮೀಸಲಾತಿ ಹೆಚ್ಚಳದ ಕುರಿತು ಕೇಂದ್ರ ಸರ್ಕಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಪ್ರಸ್ತಾವನೆಯನ್ನೇ ಸಲ್ಲಿಸದೆ ಕಿವಿ ಮೇಲೆ ಹೂವಿಟ್ಟಿದೆ @BJP4Karnataka.
ಜನರನ್ನು ಮೋಸಗೊಳಿಸುವುದರಲ್ಲಿ ಬಿಜೆಪಿ ಪಿಹೆಚ್ಡಿ ಮಾಡಿರುವಂತಿದೆ!
— Karnataka Congress (@INCKarnataka) March 22, 2023
“The state government has not even forwarded the proposal to the Union government. The BJP seems to have done a PhD in deceiving people,” the Congress lashed out at the ruling party.
Responding to the Congress’s criticism, Minister Karjol accused the Opposition of misleading the SC/ST communities. The BJP is committed to fulfilling the promises made to the Dalits on quota hike,” he told South First.