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2019 Poll bugle: Modi Govt approves Bill to grant 10% quota for economically poor upper castes

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With less than six months left before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and its electoral might no longer looking invincible, the Narendra Modi government, on Monday (January 7), sounded its poll bugle with a sop that, although vulnerable to legal scrutiny, could reinvigorate its dwindling support among the BJP’s traditional constituency – the upper castes.

Still recovering from the electoral insults in the recently concluded assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the Modi government approved a Bill that carves out a new 10 per cent quota for “economically weaker” upper castes applying for government jobs and admissions in educational institutions. This quota will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservations already made for members of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes community and the Other Backward Classes and will, in effect, leave just 40 per cent seats for members eligible under the “general” category.

It is pertinent to note that the Supreme Court, vide its 1992 ruling in the Indra Sawhney case, had set the cap for reservations at 50 per cent. Similarly, Article 16(4) of the Constitution enables provision of reservation to Backward Classes, who are not adequately represented in the State, currently pegged at – 15 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 27 per cent for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) respectively.

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