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Left leaders oppose hike in quota

New Delhi, April 28
The Left parties today asked the Manmohan Singh government to desist from increasing the reservation quantum for Scheduled Castes (SC) in proportion to the Dalit population, contending that the move would defeat the very purpose of the affirmative action.

On the ongoing medical students’ agitation against the proposal for 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in educational institutions in Delhi and some other places, Left leaders said the reservation was for admission only and not for obtaining the degree.

The plan is reportedly being prepared by the Social Justice Ministry, which has cited the 2001 Census to justify the move.

Meanwhile, existing quota stands perilously to the limit at 49.5 per cent — 15 per cent for SCs, 7.5 per cent for STs and 27 per cent for the OBCs. The ceiling of 50 per cent, as fixed by the Supreme Court, would be breached if the proposal is accepted.

Talking to UNI, CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan said, “There is already a quota that comprises both the SCs and STs of 22.5 per cent which is almost equal to the population ratio of the SCs and STs. Any attempt to raise this quota will be detrimental to the other segments of the population, in particular the OBCs.”

Mr Bardhan, veteran Communist and freedom fighter, quoting the Supreme Court order that the reservations could not go beyond 50 per cent, said the reservation quota for the OBCs was not in proportion to their population.

Elaborating, party national secretary Shamim Faizi said the OBCs constituted 52 per cent of the country’s population but were getting 27 per cent reservation. “If the SC/ST quota has to be in proportion to their population, then the OBCs will also demand the same quantum of reservation benefits which will upset the whole scheme of reservations and the apex court’s order.”

Mr Faizi, also the party’s Weekly New Age Editor, noted that it would be better at this juncture that the step of raising the SC quota in reservations in proportion to their population be dropped.

On the ongoing controversy over the HRD Ministry’s proposal for 27 per cent reservation in higher educational institutions, the CPI leaders said Mr Arjun Singh had already made a statement that the decision would be taken only after May 11 when the Assembly elections are over.

“But those who are opposing the concept are deliberately ignoring the law passed by Parliament unanimously, allowing reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs in private professional educational institutions,” Mr Bardhan and Mr Faizi said.

They wanted to know “if this had to happen in the private sector, then why it could not in those institutions which were funded by the Centre and the state governments.”

CPM floor leaders in the Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharia and Salim Mohammad said it was unfortunate that these issues were being held up at the time of elections, which neither served the cause of the downtrodden nor uniting the society.

“And some quarters promote the students which increase the divisive tendency in society. If further reservation for SCs is required, it should be done in consultation with all political parties. This issue should be discussed with the Opposition as well,” the leaders said.

On the contradictory statements on quota in educational institutions, they said the Congress should first unite itself. “Instead of speaking in many voices, it should come out with clear proposals.”

Mr Mohammad added that such statements created some confusion and the question of social justice for the poor got mixed with polity.

Referring to the conflicting viewpoints by Congress leaders Arjun Singh and Mr Kapil Sibal, they demanded that the government must come clean, but “the whole talk of merit is humbug.” They explained that reservation was only for admissions and not for granting the degrees. “Every student whether coming from the reserved or unreserved category, has to pass the examination without any affirmative action to obtain a degree.”

RSP leader and MP Abani Roy said it was very difficult to know the “real motive” of the Congress behind these moves.” Only quotas don’t prove beneficial. The seats will also have to be increased. We should not leave any room for social unrest and the government should take the necessary precautions to ensure that SCs are given their due share.” — UNI
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