Most of the parties in Tamil Nadu have come out against Centre’s proposal to set apart 10 per cent of jobs and seats in educational institutions to economically backward among the forward castes .
Sixteen out of 21 parties which attended a meeting called by Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam in Chennai on Monday told the AIADMK Government that it was an attempt to dilute the existing 69 per cent reservation in vogue in the State.
The five which supported the Centre’s move were the BJP, the two communist parties as well as the Tamil Manila Congress and the Puthiya Tamizhagam. The TMC and the PT fought the last Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the AIADMK and the BJP.
Leading the attack, DMK president MK Stalin cautioned the Government not to fall into the trap of the Centre which has offered 25 per cent increase in medical seats to States which agree to the new quota.
He also said reservation on the basis of economic backwardness was liable to challenge as the Constitution has provided for quota only for the socially and educationally backward classes.
Pannerselvam said the Government would consult legal experts as to whether supporting the 10 per cent quota would affect the 69 per cent already in force in the State.
Late Chief Minister J Jayalalitha protected the 69 per cent quota from challenge by getting it included in the ninth schedule of the Constitution . This was done by her after the Supreme Court in the famous Mandal commission judgment said the overall quota should not exceed 50 per cent.
It was Jayalalitha who raised the backward classes quota to 50 per cent. This is besides the 19 per cent set apart for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes which is mandatory.
When her mentor MG Ramachandran was Chief Minister, he issued a GO for including the poor among the forward communities in the quota in 1979 and even fixed Rs 9000 a year income as the criterion. He however backtracked in the face of howl of protests from DMK president M Karunanidhi and DK president K Veeramani.
He also wrongly presumed the AIADMK’s route in the 1980 Lok Sabha polls which led to the dismissal of his ministry was because of his stand on quota. After voted back to power the same year, he enhanced the quota for backward classes to 31.
When Jayalalitha came to power in 1991, she enhanced the BC quota to 50 per cent, taking the overall quota to 69, beyond the 50 per cent limit fixed by the apex court.
The quota is under challenge in the apex court and year after it enhances the medical seats by 19 per cent so that meritorious student denied admission because of the increased quota can get in.
Not only are the Dravidian parties against reservation for the poor among the forward communities, they have also been resisting Supreme Court’s ruling that the creamy layer should be skimmed off so that the quota can go to the next generation in the reserved category from those who have already benefited from it.