Narendra Modi, the man who won the last general election with a thumping majority leaving the Congress, India's oldest political party facing a serious crisis, has done something like a blitzkrieg.
Recently the Congress has made a comeback of sorts, winning majority in three states: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradhesh and Chattisgarh. Prime Minister Modi has made a stunning move to gain his lost hold on people. His government has made an amendment to the Constitution declaring 10 percent reservation to the economically backward in the "upper castes". In government jobs and educational institutions 10 percent quota is declared for them. Till now only Dalits and the OBCs were given quotas by the Constitution. The Congress and other opposition parties, seeing it as a juggernaut of Modi, had to back the movement started by Modi.
It is interesting to note that the BJP had opposed the Mandal Committee recommendation allowing the OBCs a quota in reservation. The Mandal recommendation was opposed by both the Congress and the BJP but the then Prime Minister VP Singh made it a point to grant the OBCs a quota. His government had to fall as a result of the agitation against the OBC quota. The Supreme Court in a judgement on the Constitution declared 50% as the maximum for Dalits and OBCs. This government has made 60 percent reservation by adding 10 percent to upper castes.
The matter has been challenged in the Supreme Court. No matter what it says, it has taken the nation to a crucial point. The Congress and other opposition parties supported the government's move in Parliament. But they have reservations on the move of the government. They are waiting for the SC judgement.
Reservations have been extended umpteen times saying the Dalits are not benefited from that and later adding the OBCs to that list. This is against what Dr. Ambedkar the man who brought the Constitution, which has been widely praised, has said. He was against extending the reservation, ten years was given for continuation of the reservation by him. The Dalits, truth to tell, did not gain .The same can be said of the OBCs who according to an estimate, account for over 50 percent of India's population. No wonder they are demanding a hike in the quota given to them. No wonder Mayawati is demanding reservation extension to the private sector too. In other words, the demands will continue till the cows come home.
This situation poses a threat to the nation. The reply to this threat demands a stern action by the ruling party. Not a move to gather votes by taking a move contrary to what they have been saying. The Congress, the Communist parties, the BJP and regional satraps have to take a position after discussion with experts. This business of taking stands that suit them in the elections to come won't do much good to people at large. They might gain something for a short while.
In Kerala, the Nair community, the Brahmin community and the Christian community stand to gain out of this move by Modi. Communities like the Baniyas and Patels, of Maharashtra and the Gujarat stand to gain. No wonder the NSS leaders and the Christian Bishops have praised the move, as it will give them benefits which would not have been theirs.
But the question remains- where are the jobs that people aspire for and die for? A preliminary study of the national situation would show what Modi had promised and what the nation had believed, did not happen.
Almost the same thing can be said about ‘Garibi Hatao’ the slogan that made Indira Gandhi create history. The Congress has buried the famous slogan fathoms deep. India has lost 11 million jobs in 2018 says a newspaper. Reservation without job creation will bring no real changes in the lives of people. So these are empty promises, one can say.
Let the matter be decided by the Supreme Court and let us wait for the Supreme Court ruling on issues like this which is a comment on the politics that India has seen since Independence.
PM Modi has moved the 124th amendment to the Constitution. This shows that the Constitution was not adequate enough to manage the ruling of people. Or did the Parliament members have other things to do or ponder?
The present rule is that economically weaker sections will be notified by the state from time to time on the basis of family income and other economic discussed vintages. This shows that the centre has given the role of notifying who all are economically backward among upper castes to state governments with a view of giving the reservation to the right people. This also shows the state government can play a mischievous role.
Modi has nothing great to show for himself except two things-the latest constitutional amendment and the ‘talaq, talaq, talaq’ divorce of Muslim women.
Will this be enough for Narendra Modi to claim another term as prime minister? I have my doubts on whether these two will stand him in good stead. One can only wait for the general election results.
- P C Punnen, Senior Journalist.
(The views expressed in the article above are those of the author.)