The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has not issued any order for appointing the chairperson of the commission to work on the sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes on the central list a month after the Union cabinet approved its formation.
According to a cabinet decision on August 23, the commission was to submit its report within 12 weeks from the date of appointment of the chairperson. However, sources said the appointment has been put on the back-burner and the matter “if at all they want to take it up, will now be closer to some elections”.
“The announcement to set up the commission to examine sub-categorisation of OBCs was an entirely political move. Since the deadline for the report submission begins only once the appointment of the chairperson is done, the government doesn’t see any need to speed up the process as of now,” said a source.
The commission is to be set up under Article 340 of the Constitution.
The stated purpose of setting it up is to look at sub-categorisation of around 5,000 castes on the central OBC list to ensure “more equitable distribution” of opportunities in central government jobs and educational institutions.
The move, coming 25 years since the implementation of the Mandal Commission report that brought in 27 per cent OBC reservation, was seen as the BJP’s attempt to cash in on votes of non-dominant castes among OBCs, and thereby undermine the regional parties whose mainstay are the more powerful OBC sections.
Ministry officials said states such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Haryana, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir have a sub-categorisation where the more backward castes among OBCs are ensured of a certain reservation in central government jobs and educational institutions. Larger states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh do not have any such thing.
The former National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) under the Justice V Eswaraiah had in March 2015 submitted a report recommending sub-categorisation within the OBCs into Extremely Backward Classes (Group ‘A’), More Backward Classes (Group ‘B’) and Backward Classes (Group ‘C’).
The NCBC had then asked for the government’s approval to undertake the process and said the Indian Council of Social Science Research should be engaged in studying the state-wise lists with reference to traditional occupation, social, educational and economic backwardness. No action was taken on the report in 2015.
Accusing the Congress of stalling a bill to grant constitutional status to the NCBC in the monsoon session, the BJP had held up the cabinet decision on sub-categorisation as its pro-OBC measure.
However, a source said: “There is no political expediency as of now to set up the commission. A decision on whether to go ahead with the appointment and when to do so will be taken around election time when some dividend can be reaped out of the move of merely appointing someone to head the commission,” said sources.