A day after the Supreme Court upheld the Centre’s 10 percent quota for the poor or EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) in jobs and education, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called for a nationwide caste census, while his party counterpart Tamil Nadu MK Stalin said his government would challenge the decision in court.
The Supreme Court said the quota is not discriminatory and does not alter the basic structure of the constitution. The verdict is a huge victory for the ruling BJP at the Centre, which introduced the quota just before the 2019 general elections after losing three key northern states.
MK Stalin’s DMK party will submit a petition for review to the Supreme Court. “The judgment strikes at the heart of constitutional equality,” the party said, stating that the quota is “against social justice and equality” and a setback to the centuries-old struggle for social justice.
Mr Stalin also called for an all-party meeting on Saturday to discuss the way forward.
Nitish Kumar said the 50 percent cap on reservations in the country should be removed.
“What the Supreme Court passed was fair enough. We have always supported the quota. But it is high time to raise the limit from 50 percent. The restriction deprives OBC (Other Backward Classes) and EBC (Extremely Backward Classes). ) of opportunities relative to their population,” said Mr. Kumar, an OBC leader who rose to national limelight during the turmoil over the Mandal Commission’s recommendations for quotas for backward castes.
He called for a fresh assessment of the size of various social groups, adding that he had also raised the need for a caste census with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year.
“We were told that states can have such counts. We undertook that exercise. But this should also be done at the national level. The issue of caste census must be reconsidered,” the chief minister said.
Kumar’s former ally the BJP scoffed at his comments, claiming he was “obviously unhappy” that poor upper castes were getting quotas.
The demand to remove the 50 percent cap was first raised by RJD’s Lalu Yadav. Nitish Kumar dumped the BJP and formed a new government with the RJD in August.
The Congress party supported the decision of the Supreme Court.
“We welcome him. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should get reservations based on their population. Backward classes should get reservations under the Mandal commission. We are in favor of the court’s decision,” said Bhupesh Baghel, Congress chief minister. – ruled Chhattisgarh.
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