Saturday, April 30, 2016

Will BJP decision to give reservation to Upper Castes in Gujarat help the party or will it boomerang?

Gujarat government has decided to provide 10% reservation to Upper Castes in the State. An ordinance is being brought to this effect.

It is a decision, which may seriously affect the fortunes of the party in the long run. Has it been a decision taken after due consideration and thought?

There are several questions. Is the party flaying with fire? Will the decision help the BJP or it will boomerang.

Firstly, BJP was always seen as a part of Upper Castes, especially, Banias and Brahmins.

As it had to expand its base, it played Dalit card, Tribal card, as well as Backward card, and wooed them.

But, its leaders, core cadre and supporters remain among the Upper Castes. Besides, RSS [Sangh] is mostly dominated by Upper Castes. Has the decision been taken to appease the Upper Castes?

1. Anandiben Patel government has taken a decision and the first thing is to be seen is that whether this decision will stand in the court. The Gujarat government spokesperson says that the government will stand by decision and will fight its case in the court[s].

2. But, then, comes the crucial question. If Upper Castes or Economically Backward Classes [EBCs] among them get quotas in jobs [and education], will it not defeat the very purpose of reservations. Upper Castes have not been marginalised or exploited.

3. The Gujarat government says reservation [in jobs and in higher education] will be to all those whose annual income is Rs 6 lakh. Really! Those earning Rs 5 lakh per month are poor, in Gujarat government's view? That's quite strange.

4. Reservation was a constitutional measure to uplift status of Dalits and Tribals, the historically oppressed and disadvantaged people who were denied education, who were kept out of power, and who suffered untouchability and inequality of the worst kind.

Upper Castes have been over-represented in government jobs. Hence, can it be called fair or it just a means to appease the forward castes and set right the situation in Gujarat, which witnessed Patel agitation.

5. The decision may anger the Backward-Dalit-Tribal supporters of the BJP. Uttar Pradesh is a crucial state. Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) may take the BJP to task over this 'reservation decision'.

Already, RSS leaders' statements over reservation, cost BJP, an important state like Bihar. But the BJP must have weighed its options well.

The BJP government has been facing the ire of Patidars [Patels] in Gujarat and had recently seen how Jats went on rampage in Haryana. Right now, the BJP has taken a decision in Gujarat, and it will take sometime before the picture gets clearer.

[Photo courtesy: The Indian Express]