After apex court order, Congress MPs in TN defy party line and join others to decry EWS quota

Several Tamil political parties expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court order as they believed that it was against the principles of social justice.

ByShilpa Nair

Published Nov 08, 2022 | 10:43 AM Updated Nov 08, 2022 | 12:27 PM

The Solicitor General sought time from the Supreme Court to file the reply to the petitions challenging the decision to scrap reservation. (Commons)

The 3-2 split verdict of a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court which upheld the 103rd Constitutional Amendment providing 10 percent reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) has come as a big blow to the social justice movement, several political parties in Tamil Nadu, including the ruling DMK, said.

Interestingly, Members of Parliament from the Congress — Jothimani and Karti Chidambaram — went against the official party line and expressed disappointment over the apex court order issued on Monday, 7 November.

“The verdict of the Supreme Court upholding EWS quota has to be considered as a setback to our century-long crusade for social justice”, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief MK Stalin said in a statement on Monday.

The DMK was at the forefront of the legal battle against reservation for the EWS introduced by the BJP-led Union Government in 2019.

While stating that the next course of action would be decided after a detailed analysis of the verdict in consultation with legal experts, Stalin called upon like-minded parties to unite in order to amplify the voice for social justice all over the country.

The DMK president further pointed out in a tweet that “reservation is not a poverty alleviation programme.”

Setback to struggle for social justice: Cong MP

The Congress party, meanwhile, welcomed the verdict immediately after it was delivered and claimed credit.

Party General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a statement that the 103rd amendment was the result of a process initiated by Dr Manmohan Singh’s government in 2005-’06 by appointing the Sinho Commission that submitted its report in July, 2010.

The Major Sinho Commission was constituted to study the economic backwardness among the general category.


Congress MP Karti Chidambaram (South First)

Two Congress MPs from Tamil Nadu, Jothimani and Karti Chidambaram, opposed the Supreme Court judgment.

Tweeting, Jothimani termed the ruling a major setback to the century-long struggle for social justice. She further stated that reservation was created to fight against social oppression, create equal opportunities and empower the oppressed communities.

She added that it was unconstitutional to justify reservation on economic grounds without considering social oppression.

Likewise, Congress MP from Sivagangai, Karti Chidambaram, said the Supreme Court order on EWS quota excluded many from accessing the reservation on economic grounds.

“A 3:2 split judgement indicates contrasting viewpoints that need to be addressed. The criteria of EWS is also arbitrary. The judgement doesn’t aid in true economic/ social uplift,” he added.

Injustice in the name of justice

The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) an alliance partner of the DMK, opined that the Supreme Court verdict went against the Constitution, and called it an injustice committed in the name of justice.

The party chief and Member of Parliament, Thol Thirumavalavan, stated that the VCK would file a review petition in the Supreme Court and pointed out that the issue of reservation cannot be resolved in the court: it has to be dealt with politically.

Appealing to the Congress and the Left parties to change their stance on the EWS quota, Thirumavalavan urged everyone to work together to oppose the reservation brought in by the BJP, which he believed favoured only the privileged castes and was against the interests of Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The PMK, led by Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, echoed similar views. In a series of tweets, he said: “The order of the Supreme Court will cause a huge setback for the principles of social justice followed in the country. India is a country with social inequalities. To get rid of them, reservation must be given on the basis of social status and not economic status. People’s economic status changes from time to time and therefore, reservations based on economic grounds would just serve as a poverty alleviation scheme. It will not ensure social justice.”

While the AIADMK, which the principal Opposition party in the state, is yet to react to the order, AMMK chief TTV Dhinakaran expressed anguish over the judgment and urged the state government to ensure that the 69 percent reservation in Tamil Nadu remained intact.