The issue of reservation for the Kapu community in Andhra Pradesh is on the boil again after YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) chief Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s remarks that the community may not get quota benefit even if his party comes to power in the Assembly elections next year.
Quoting Supreme Court’s order that reservation in states cannot exceed 50 per cent, and the difficulty in amending the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, which bars laws under this Schedule from judicial review, Jagan, addressing a rally in Kapu-dominated East Godavari district, said that the community’s demand for quota in education and jobs may never materialise, as it comes under the Centre’s purview.
Facing a backlash from Kapu leaders — Mudragadda Padmanabam, who is leading the quota agitation, slammed Jagan’s “U-turn” and said that “it seems Chandrababu Naidu (of ruling TDP) is more interested in welfare of Kapus than Jagan” — the YSRCP leader clarified Tuesday that he is not against quota for Kapus. “I am saying that given the 50-per cent cap put by the Supreme Court, implementation looks unrealistic. Even if it is implemented, it should not affect the quota of existing Backward Classes (BCs),” Jagan said.
Jagan, the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, reiterated Wednesday: “I support quota for Kapus but it should not do injustice to BCs. In fact, if YSRCP comes to power, we will give Rs 10,000 crore fund to the Kapu Corporation.”
While TDP leaders tore into Jagan, accusing him of adopting “double standards” and betraying the community, which forms nearly a quarter of the state’s electorate, sources in YSRCP called it a well-calculated move by Jagan, aimed at appeasing people from BC communities.
“Everyone knows how difficult it is to give quotas to a community, as AP already has 50 per cent quotas – the apex court has to approve and Parliament has to amend the Ninth Schedule, which are all very complicated,” a YSRCP leader said. “Jagan’s statement is aimed at appeasing the Backward Classes, who fear that Kapus may get quota at their expense. BC leaders feel the TDP will include Kapus in BC category instead of a separate category, which will eat into the share of existing reservation for BCs.”
The leader added, “Jagan’s statement is a relief for BCs — it will ensure that they are on his side in the coming elections.”
YSRCP leaders point out that actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan, a Kapu himself, will also fight for the community’s votes. In 2014, Pawan had campaigned for TDP-BJP alliance but subsequently broke away. He has announced that his Jana Sena Party would contest all 175 Assembly seats in 2019.
Between TDP and Pawan Kalyan, YSRCP expects very few votes from Kapus for the party, thus the “calculated announcement” on quota for the community, party leaders explained.
Slamming Jagan, TDP state president K Kala Venkat Rao said, “He took a U-turn after declaring support to the Kapu agitation two years ago. Jagan says Kapu quota comes under the Centre’s purview, and thus nothing can be done by the state government. Applying the same logic, special category status (for Andhra Pradesh) is also under the Centre’s purview, so why does Jagan then constantly criticise TDP for not doing anything about it?”
He claimed that the TDP will not reduce the existing quota of BCs to accommodate Kapus. “We will create a separate Backward Class-F category,” he said.
On Friday, TDP Lok Sabha MP M Srinivasa Rao introduced a Bill to provide reservation in posts and services of the Central government and Public Sector Undertakings for Kapu community. Rao – who had raised the issue in Parliament on July 30 as well and urged the Centre to clear the Kapu quota Bill, “pending with the Centre for long” – said, “It is with a view to improving their living standard and extending them the benefit of progress made by the country after Independence and for matters connected therewith. It is called the Reservation in Posts and Services for Kapu Community of Andhra Pradesh Bill, 2018.”
On December 2 last year, the Andhra Pradesh government had announced 5-per cent quota in education and employment to the Kapus. Earlier, in August 2017, the government had in-principle agreed to the recommendations made by the Justice Manjunatha (retd) Commission, set up to look into the issue of extending reservations to Kapus, including Telaga, Balija and Ontari communities.
A new Backward Classes-F category will be created for them, the government announced. This was one of the ruling Telugu Desam Party’s poll promises in 2014.
The additional 5-per cent reservation took the total in Andhra Pradesh to 55 per cent – over the 50-per cent limit set by the Supreme Court.
In Andhra Pradesh, BCs (A, B, C, D categories) have 25 per cent reservation. There is a 4-per cent reservation for BC (E) for backward Muslim communities. Scheduled Castes have 15 per cent, and Scheduled Tribes another 6 per cent quota, making it 50 per cent in all.
Kapus are widely believed to have supported the TDP in 2014 elections, which helped the party to win with a slender margin of 2.06 per cent votes. After coming to power, as Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu dithered over the quota promise, Kapu leader Mudragadda Padmanabham called for a protest on January 31, 2016 near Tuni in East Godavari district. The agitation turned violent and protesters torched the Ratnanchal Express train and ransacked Tuni railway station. To placate the community, Naidu established a Kapu Corporation in 2016 with a corpus of Rs 1,000 crore. The Corporation gives loans, creates employment opportunities, and helps the Kapu community economically.