Both BJP and Congress claim credit for quota law; DMK calls it “gross injustice”

Both the BJP and Congress welcomed the judgment of the Supreme Court upholding the 10% reservation for economically weaker sections of the general category. However, regional parties, especially those with roots in social justice movements, have been divided, with both parties asserting credit for introducing the 103rd amendment to the Constitution.

Tamil Nadu’s DMK called the decision “gross injustice” and “antithetical to social justice,” while the BSP and the JD(U) welcomed it. The RJD, a party, previously opposed to the EWS quota, renewed its call for a caste census, saying that the judgment “opens the possibility of increasing the quota for backward castes proportionate to their share of the population”.

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the 103rd Amendment Act, 2019 in a 3-2 split decision on Monday.

BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia described the judgment as a “victory” for Narendra Modi’s “mission” of providing social justice for the poor. According to Bhatia, Modiji has demonstrated that the party’s goal of Antyodaya can be accomplished without snatching away the rights of any community. It was intended to empower the poor, strengthen them, and assist them in escaping poverty through the Constitutional amendment.”

B L Santosh, general secretary of the BJP (organisation), called the verdict “another big credit to PM Narendra Modi’s vision for Gareeb Kalyan” and a “great step forward in the direction of social justice”.

As well as Congress the Senate claimed credit for the Constitutional amendment that established the 10% quota. In a statement welcoming the judgment, AICC general secretary in charge of communication Jairam Ramesh stated, “The Amendment itself was the result of a process initiated by the Manmohan Singh government in 2005-06 with the appointment of the Sinha Commission, which submitted its report in July 2010. A wide range of consultations followed, and the Bill was ready by 2014. The Modi Sarkar took five years to enact the Bill. The party also reiterated its support for a caste-based census.

Likewise, the RJD has called for a caste census, with its MP Manoj Jha stating, “This is a split vote.”. A caste census offers a variety of interpretations and intervention opportunities… The ceiling has been lifted, so the reservation should be proportional to the percentage of the population. It is the responsibility of governments to deepen and broaden social justice. As a result of this judgment, that possibility has been opened.”

As a result of the judgment, Vijay Kumar Choudhary, the Finance Minister of Bihar and a senior JDU leader, stated in Patna: “Bihar was one of the pioneering states to introduce the EWS quota (in 1978). According to the SC, what Nitish Kumar has said is in line with his policies. The economic criterion for reservation is in our favor.”

Regarding the population-based reservation, the JD(U) has joined forces with its ally, the RJD, as party leader KC Tyagi stated, “We do not oppose the proposal of the RJD.” A caste census has already been conducted in Bihar and must be carried out across the country.”

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief M K Stalin was the most vocal opponent of the verdict, calling it “a setback to the century-old struggle for social justice”.

In a statement, Stalin urged all political parties that support social justice to unite, saying, “We have been battling the quota in court since the Union government first proposed it in 2019. I consider today’s order to be a significant setback. We will consult with legal experts and pursue our efforts to defend India’s social justice system.”

As a party that supported the amendment in Parliament, although it raised several questions then, the CPI(M) has demanded that the income criteria for the EWS quota be revised by lowering it to Rs 7 lakh to ensure that only the poor are eligible for the benefit.

Similarly, the BSP in UP also claimed credit for the Constitutional amendment, with party spokesperson Dharamveer Chaudhary stating, “This (the quota) has been a longstanding demand of the party. After Behenji (Mayawati) wrote a letter to the government requesting such a quota, the constitutional amendment was enacted. It is good that the poor in the general category will also receive the benefit of reservations, as SCs, STs, and OBCs already enjoy a quota.

Party chief Mayawati referred to the legislation as an “election stunt” in 2019.

The BJD also welcomed it. In Parliament, the party supported the legislation. As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, it has now been upheld. According to BJD MP Pinaki Mishra, we welcome this development.

Sougat Roy, a member of the TMC, called the verdict “good for democracy”. As a result of the verdict, the economically weaker members of the upper castes will benefit. As a result of the verdict, economic equality will be brought to the society significantly,” he added.

Some regional parties in the South supported the verdict.

As a result, we supported the Bill in Parliament… It is necessary for the upliftment of the poor among the forward classes. TRS politburo member B Vinod Kumar stated that we have already implemented it in education.

After forming the government in June 2019, YSRCP leader and Minister for Social Welfare M Nagarjuna announced that the state government was implementing EWS reservations in educational institutions.

Arun Janardhanan in Chennai, Santosh Singh in Patna, Sreenivas Janyala in Hyderabad, Liz Mathew, Manoj C G in New Delhi, Arun Janardhanan in Chennai, Sreenivas Janyala in Hyderabad

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