Bengaluru/Lucknow/New Delhi: JD(S) head and former prime minister HD Deve Gowda extended support Tuesday to the Centre’s move towards providing a 10% quota in government jobs and education for the “economically weaker” sections. 

“Janata Dal (Secular) supports the 10% reservation in jobs and educational institutions for economically weaker sections of the upper castes,” he said in a tweet.

“We have always stood for, and will continue to stand for (the) betterment of the underprivileged and weaker sections of the society,” the veteran leader added.

The JD(S) has two Lok Sabha members from Karnataka, including Deve Gowda.

In a major move ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Union Cabinet on Monday cleared a 10% quota in government jobs and education for “economically weaker” sections, meeting a key demand of the upper castes, a staunch support base of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has shown signs of a drift from the saffron party.

The Congress has dubbed the move as an “election gimmick”. The JD(S) is in power in Karnataka in an alliance with the Congress.
The proposed reservation will be over and above the existing 50% reservation enjoyed by the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, and will take the total reservation to 60%.

The Narendra Modi government tabled a bill in this regard in Parliament on Tuesday, which for the first time aimed to provide for non-caste, non-religion-based reservation.

BSP chief Mayawati said Tuesday the Union Cabinet’s decision to provide 10% reservation in education and government jobs to the economically weaker sections was an “election stunt and political gimmick” ahead of Lok Sabha polls. She said her party, however, welcomes the “immature” move by the government.

“It would have been better had the BJP taken the decision much earlier… The government is now on its way out,” she claimed.
The Cabinet on Monday cleared the quota for economically weaker sections. The move came as the upper castes, a staunch support base of the BJP, have shown signs of drifting away from the ruling party ahead of Lok Sabha polls, likely to be held in April-May.

“BSP’s demand to provide reservation to the economically backward sections in general category is approved by the Cabinet in an immature way and without preparation. Our party, however, welcomes the decision though it appears to be an election stunt and political gimmick of BJP ahead of Lok Sabha polls,” Mayawati said in a statement.

Her reaction came a day after other opposition parties too questioned the timing of the Cabinet decision. But they have also extended support, reflecting the decision’s political significance. The BJP has termed the government decision “historic”.

Mayawati said her party has demanded reservation for economically weak Muslims and other minority communities but BJP did not do “justice” to them and that is condemnable.

“The party had written a letter in this regard to the government but Centre took a narrow and communal stand and provided the benefit to only a particular section (upper caste), which is injustice for other sections,” she said.

“In reality, there should be a review of reservation provided to SC/ST and OBC and these sections should be provided reservation as per their population by increasing their quota by amending the Constitution,” she said, demanding the implementation of quota in promotions.
The Union government is likely to bring a constitutional amendment bill in Parliament to provide the quota over and above the existing 50% reservation.

Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution will have to be amended for implementation of the decision.

The benefit of the reservation, when implemented, is likely to be availed by those whose annual income is below Rs eight lakh and have up to five acres of land.