THE CENTRE’S decision to give 10 per cent reservation to the economically backward section in general category violates the framework of the Constitution. The reservation pitched on economic criteria has inherent flaws, according to Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) president Prakash Ambedkar.
Talking to The Indian Express after the Union Cabinet gave its nod to 10 per cent quota for the economically backward in general category in government jobs and educational institutions, Prakash Ambedkar, who is the grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar, said, “The Centre’s decision itself is flawed. Reservation based on economic criteria has no provision within the basic framework of the Constitution. The foundation of reservation is based on two important aspects – social backwardness and educational backwardness,” he argued.
Explaining the origins of quota in context of the Constitution, Prakash Ambedkar said, “Almost seven decades ago when reservation was considered unanimously in the Indian Parliament, it was in context of the suppressed and oppressed class of the society. It has a historical and social past.”
Affirmative action through quota was restricted to those class which have for centuries been subjected to atrocities and oppression socially… Overall, the backwardness was based on social and educational criteria, which has sanction in the Constitution, he asserted.
Terming the decision of the Centre as a “panic reaction” ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Prakash Ambedkar said, “It is evident they are hoping to consolidate their vote base among the forward caste or general class, which is left out of quota. But the political agenda is limited.” However, he believes such decisions reflect the ideology of the RSS, which is guiding the BJP. And its purpose is to alter the existing framework of the Constitution, he argued.
“In a country like India where 70 per cent of the population is agriculture-driven, how will you define economic backwardness? If there is a good monsoon, even small and marginal farmers will reflect economic prosperity. Whereas, if there is a drought it would lead to economic setback to almost every farmer. The mechanism to identity economic backwardness would be questioned in court,” he believes.
Asked how the decision would impact politics in Maharashtra in an election year, Prakash Ambedkar said, “The decision will not have any impact on communities already enjoying quota. Namely, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Class, which together constitute 52 per cent. Now, the remaining 48 per cent was for general category. From this, 10 per cent is being reserved for economic backward among the forward class.”