Bengaluru: Karnataka government’s decision to create two new OBC categories for Vokkaligas and Lingayats, and to meet their reservation demand by utilising a portion of the 10 per cent EWS quota, seems to have created some ambiguity among opposition parties, which have cited lack of clarity.
While, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah calling the move a ”political gimmick” for the sake of election said no final decision has been arrived yet by the government; JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy asked as to who and how any community has benefited from the outcome of Thursday’s Cabinet decision.
As per the decision, the Vokkaligas who come under Category 3A of OBC list will now be placed under the new Category 2C, while the Veerashaiva-Lingayats, who are under Category 3B now, will be put in Category 2D. The existing Categories 3A and 3B will be done away with.
However, it has deferred the decision regarding the quantum of reservation to 2C and 2D categories, until there is a final report from the Backward Classes Commission.
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To meet the demands for a hike in quota from these communities, the government plans to carve out from the 10 per cent EWS quota that will be applicable to Brahmins, Jains, Arya Vysyas, Nagarthas and Mudaliars. This is likely to be done following the report, which will determine castes and population that deserve EWS quota.
Both Vokkaligas and Lingayats are numerically dominant communities in south and north Karnataka regions respectively, and are also politically strong.
”No decision has been made yet. Show me if it has happened. Whether to take (share) from EWS or general category has not been decided yet. It also needs to be seen whether what they (govt) are doing is as per the constitution, which clearly says reservation should not exceed 50 per cent, it has been made clear in the Indira Sawhney case by the Supreme Court,” Siddaramaiah told reporters ”We need to see the details of how they will meet the quota hike demand and after going through details we can react, till then don’t be confused, they (govt) are trying to create confusion for the sake of elections,” he said in Davangere.
However, Karnataka Congress president D K Shivakumar said he will discuss with party leaders including Siddaramaiah on the Cabinet’s decision regarding the reservation and will make the party’s stand clear on the matter.
JD(S) leader Kumaraswamy questioned as to what are the benefits that the communities will get just by changing their category.
”What was existing has continued, only their names have been changed…After gathering information on the current situation of communities politically, socially, economically and in terms of education, reservation issues should be discussed, you cannot do it standing in the market for the sake of election. Yesterday’s (Thursday) decision is like betraying the people of the State,” he said.
Though the category has been changed, as of now their reservation will continue as earlier — 4 per cent for Vokkaligas under Category 2C and 5 per cent for Lingayats under Category 2D.
The government hopes that as per its calculations, once the Backward Classes Commission fixes the allocation of 10 per cent quota to EWS communities, it will save some quota under this category, which it plans to distribute between 2C and 2D adding to their existing reservation of 4 and 5 per cent respectively.
The Backward Classes Commission will fix the allocation of 10 per cent quota to EWS communities in proportion to their population, and is expected to submit a report in this regard in 2-3 months, Law Minister Madhuswamy had said on Thursday after the cabinet.
At present, OBCs in Karnataka have 32 per cent reservation across five categories — Category 1 (4 per cent), Category 2A (15), Category 2B (4), Category 3A (4) and Category 3B (5).
Chief Minister’s office quoting Bommai in a statement said, details regarding the reservation that was discussed in the State Cabinet on Thursday will be released soon. He said the next course of action will be taken on the basis of the report of the Backward Classes Commission and after the discussion regarding its implementation.
Revenue Minister Minister R Ashoka too said, without hurting for any other community Vokkaliga and Panchamasali will be given reservation under 2C and 2D.
The government’s decision comes as assembly elections are likely in four months. While Lingayats are ruling BJP’s core vote base, the party wants to make inroads into Vokkaliga dominated old Mysuru region to get a clear majority in the polls.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has been under pressure from Panchamasali Lingayats, a subsect of Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, who wanted to be moved from 3B to 2A for higher reservation. Also, the Vokkaligas had demanded a quota hike from 4 to 12 per cent.