Chennai: An all-Legislative party meeting, chaired by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Saturday, said it rejected the 103rd Constitutional Amendment providing 10 percent EWS quota by the Centre, saying it created caste discrimination among the poor.
The meeting, boycotted by Principal opposition AIADMK and its ally BJP, urged the State government to register its opinions when a review petition is filed.
The ruling DMK had announced it would file a review petition against the November 8 five-judge Supreme Court Bench upholding the 10 percent reservation for the economically weaker sections (EWS). The quota was upheld 3-2 by the Bench.
“We reject the 103rd Constitutional Amendment providing 10 percent reservation to castes that have progressed since it is against the social justice envisioned by the Constitution, against various apex court verdicts, and for creating caste discrimination among the poor,” the all-party meeting resolved.
“When a review petition is filed in the Supreme Court in this connection, we request the Tamil Nadu government to also strongly place its opinions to ensure social justice and equality,” the resolution read.
While the participating parties supported poverty alleviation schemes, “we will not allow the basic values of social justice concept to be shattered.” Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy said those who attended the meeting extended support to the issue.
DMK’s allies — Congress, Left parties, MDMK, and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) — besides NDA constituent Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) participated in the meeting.
He questioned the absence of the AIADMK, pointing out that its stalwarts, the late chief ministers MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa, always stood for social justice.
The meeting was convened by the State government to discuss the next course of action in the wake of the November 8 ruling.
In his address, Stalin said the Constitution had mandated social and educational backarwardness as the measure for reservation.
Taking on critics of reservation, he said those who had complained of compromise in merit were now welcoming the 10 per cent quota.
“I don’t need to elobrate on the subtlety. Neither do I want to talk about the political benefits aimed in this. Whatever may be their (BJP-led NDA) intention, reservation based on economic status is contrary to social justice, contrary to the Constitution,” Stalin said.
In fact, when earlier demands were made to include the word ‘Economically’ over the first Constitutional amendment over reservation, neither the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru nor the then Law Minister B R Ambedkar were in favour.
Their opposition to stand should not be construed as impeding the poor among the forward castes.
“We will not prevent any scheme for the poor as witnessing the smile on the poor person’s face is the policy of ‘Anna’ or CN Annadurai, the late DMK founder and former Chief Minister,” Stalin said.
He wondered how those with an annual income of Rs 8 lakh can be categorised as poor to avail of the quota for EWS.
“If this amendment is accepted, the very social justice concept will wither away with time. They will remove the ‘socially and economically backward’ (clause) and bring ‘economically’ everywhere. That is why we opposed this in Parliament and voted against it,” he said.
Whether the Communists or the Congress, they have always accepted and supported the Dravidian movement’s policies in Tamil Nadu, Stalin said.
The Congress had earlier claimed credit for the EWS quota.
The AIADMK, which had boycotted the meeting, charged Stalin with duplicity on the matter, saying the Congress-led UPA had first set up a Commission in 2006 to look into reservation based on economic criteria.
The then UPA formulated the law, and UPA constituent DMK’s Ministers had signed in support, claimed AIADMK organising secretary D Jayakumar, in a statement.
“This law has been passed by the BJP government in Parliament in 2019,” he said.
The EWS does not include the SC/ST and OBCs. Tamil Nadu has the highest reservation of 69 per cent.