The Congress party has made much hue and cry about the NDA government’s decision to secure a 10% reservation for economically weaker sections among the unreserved class in government jobs and education. In Parliament, although the party voted in favour of the bill in both houses, it questioned the timing of the bill.
The party has branded the move a political stunt prior to the General Elections later this year. The move is expected to benefit the BJP as rumours of Upper Caste resentment was rife. However, the Congress party appears to have forgotten its own conduct in the past.
The entire Opposition has been rattled by the decision of the Narendra Modi government that came as a shock to many. After the initial shock, the Opposition has resorted to fear-mongering over the Quota Bill to hurt the political prospect of the BJP.
Let us take a moment now to discuss the conduct of the Congress party when it was in power in 2014. The UPA-II era was a time of unparalleled corruption in the history of independent India. And with the rise of the now famous NaMo Wave, the Congress party was in a moment of desperation.
Therefore, in 2014, merely a day before the dates for the Lok Sabha Elections was announced, the UPA government issued a notification which granted Jats a place in the Central list of Other Backward Classes (OBC). Thus, on the 4th of March, merely a day before the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was to come into force, the UPA decided to provide Jats with OBC status and the benefits that came along with it.
The decision was taken in the last meeting of the Cabinet and was expected to benefit the party in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. As it turned out, the party’s last-ditch effort to secure a victory in the elections failed spectacularly.
The UPA notification was eventually quashed by the Supreme Court the next year. “We set aside the notification to implement Jats in the Central list of Other Backward Classes (OBC),” the bench comprising of Justice Gogoi and Nariman said. “Caste, though a prominent factor, cannot be the sole factor of determining the backwardness of a class,” the bench observed.
“An affirmative action policy that keeps in mind only historical injustice would certainly result in under-protection of the most deserving backward class of citizens, which is constitutionally mandated. It is the identification of these new emerging groups that must engage the attention of the state,” the bench had further stated.
Considering the timing of the notification by the UPA government, there is little doubt about the intent behind it. The Congress party’s reasons for accusing the BJP of playing politics over the 10% reservations appear to be borne of a sense of regret for having not done it themselves more than anything else.
In an earlier report, we have elaborated on the manner in which the NDA government fulfilled the promise of reservations for the poor that was made by the UPA government in 3 elections manifestos.