Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday said his government is working with commitment on the reservation issue, as Panchamasalis have renewed their protests with a demand to be included in 2A category of the OBC reservation matrix.
The Panchamasali community is a sub-sect of the dominant Lingayat caste in the state.
He also accused the opposition Congress of trying to reap benefits from caste politics.
The Panchamasali community wants to be included in Category 2A (15 percent) of the Other Backward Classes reservation matrix. They were till now under 3B (5 per cent).
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However, the Karnataka Cabinet on December 29, 2022 had decided to create two new OBC categories for Vokkaligas and Lingayats (as a whole), and said it has planned to meet their reservation demand by utilising a portion of the 10 per cent Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota.
As per the Cabinet decision, the Vokkaligas who come under Category 3A of the 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. This cabinet decision has been stayed by the High Court, which ordered status quo on the matter.
“Government is working with commitment on the reservation issue…within a week after the Backward Classes Commission submitted the report, it was placed before the cabinet and in-principle approval was given to it. Based on the demands, an announcement was made to include those communities under category two and to increase their reservation,” Bommai said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said this is his government’s first step in the right direction and shows its commitment.
“To enhance the reservation, there are certain Supreme Court directions and rules under the Constitution. The Backward Classes Commission should submit its report (final), after collecting empirical data, analysing the situation regarding employment and education. We have asked the final report to be submitted soon. We are committed and there is no need for any doubts,” he added.
Members of Panchamasali community, led by Kudalasangama Panchamasali Peetha seer Basavajaya Mrutyunjaya, had staged a sit-in at the Kittur Rani Chennamma Circle at Shiggaon, Chief Minister’s constituency in Haveri district, demanding 2A catagory for the community on Friday.
They burnt the effigies of Chief Minister Bommai and his predecessor B S Yediyurappa raising slogans against the government.
Stating that it is a huge responsibility on the government as justice should be done to all communities and injustice should not be done to any one, Bommai said: “We have done what we could have within a week after getting the interim report. No government can act faster than this.”
Questioning as to why Congress did not fulfil the demand of the Panchamasalis’ demand while in power, he said, when Siddaramaiah was the Chief Minister and Lingayat Panchamasali Mahasabha president Vijayanand Kashappanavar, who is leading the protest, was a Congress MLA, the Backward Classes Commission then headed by Kantharaj had rejected their application in 2016 to include Panchamasalis under Category 2A.
“The Congress is trying to reap political benefit in this caste politics,” he claimed, alleging that attempts are on to vitiate the atmosphere unnecessarily, when the government is making honest efforts to enhance reservation for the community.
Reacting to senior BJP MLA Basangouda Patil Yatnal, who is at the forefront of the Panchamasali agitation, allegedly calling one of the ministers a “pimp”, the Chief Minister said that making such personal attacks against someone is not Karnataka’s political culture, and that it reflects the legislator’s own culture.
To a question on whether any action will be taken against Yatnal, he said the party is observing everything and will take the right decision.