Even as it is becoming clear that the state government can go ahead to implement 27 per cent reservation for other backward classes (OBC) in government recruitments and admissions to different courses, except those related to three cases that the MP High Court stayed, the clamour for taking credit on issue has intensified between BJP and Congress.
The state advocate general Purushaindra Kaurav has recently conveyed his opinion to the general administration department of the state government that except for the cases in which the High Court had passed stay or interim orders, the government was at liberty to implement 27 per cent reservation in all other recruitment and admission processes.
The stay and interim orders of the High Court are on petitions related to medical PG medical admissions through NEET 2019-20, medical officers’ recruitment by MP Public Service Commission (MPPSC) and school teachers’ appointment, the advocate general had clarified.
As this point became clear, the Congress has launched a renewed attack on the state government. Former chief minister Kamal Nath said on Friday that on the basis of earlier wrong opinion, the government kept depriving the OBC community members of their rights and constantly lied on the issue. “They were continuously lying and we were opposing these lies,” Nath said in a series of tweets.
He also demanded that the state government take immediate steps to implement the increased reservation in appointments and admissions other than in those matters stayed by the High Court and put up a strong stand in the court during the final hearing in the matter (on September 1).
Meanwhile, during a coordination meeting of the BJP organisation and government in Bhopal on Friday, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan urged the ministers and party functionaries to convey the message to people that 27 per cent reservation for OBC was on in the state, sources said, indicating that the party and government want to take the credit in the matter.
Despite being an OBC himself, Chouhan-led BJP government did not take any steps to increase the OBC reservation that was a long-standing demand of the community.
It was the Kamal Nath government that decided to increase the OBC reservation to 27 per cent from 14 per cent in March 2019. However, immediately afterwards, the matter was taken to the court and the implementation was stayed.
The issue hung fire till recently as the court hearing (34 petitions clubbed together) continued, but was raked up by the Congress recently in a major way. The Congress accused the government of failing to take a strong stand in the court and a vociferous protest on this issue led to state assembly being adjourned sine die within two days during the recent monsoon session.
While the BJP, including CM Chouhan, kept up a counterattack saying the Congress was adopting a dual attitude on the issue as it has itself failed to contest the stay in High Court effectively while in government, it started taking visible steps to resolve the issue during the past 10 days.
Chouhan met the solicitor general of India Tushar Mehta along with advocate general Kaurav in Delhi last week and a decision on putting up a strong defense in favour of the increased reservation was taken. It was after this that Kaurav sent in the opinion clarifying that the stay of the court was only on certain cases.
Meanwhile, Chouhan also held meetings with OBC organisations and also ministers and bureaucrats on the matter.
Why is the matter important?
The clamour for credit taking on the issue is because during the course of hearing in the court, it became clear (through an affidavit of the state government based on unpublished caste census of 2011) that the OBC community constituted 50.9 per cent population of the state. However, the community got only 14 per cent reservation as against 20 per cent for ST and 16 for SC communities that constitute 21.1 per cent and 16.6 per cent population respectively.
Given the fact that more than half the population belongs to the OBC community, they can play a major role in the prospects of the both the parties in upcoming bypolls (one Lok Sabha and three assembly seats) and in long run the 2023 assembly polls. The issue can also have an impact on the 2022 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh which shares a long border with MP and families across state borders are related to each other.