Extend promotion quota to OBCs: Dalit body to government
NEW DELHI: A top dalit panel has asked the Centre to extend reservation in promotions to OBCs, adding a twist to the controversy over 'promotion quota' simmering since the Supreme Court quashed the Uttar Pradesh law last month.
In a letter, the National Commission for SCs (NCSC) said, "The Commission feels the benefit of reservation in promotion should also be extended to OBCs as per Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution." It said reservation had increased OBC representation in "direct recruitments", but their presence was abysmal in positions where direct recruitments were not held.
The letter by NCSC chairman P L Punia, arguing that "backward classes" as mentioned in Article 16(4) comprises SCs/STs and OBCs could add a twist to 'promotion quota' for dalits which is already in a limbo since the adverse apex court order. In a case relating to UP, the SC ruled that the quota was not acceptable since the state did not provide data to prove 'adequate representation' and 'backwardness' of the beneficiary groups as laid down by the 'Nagaraj judgement'.
The order led to an Opposition assault on Congress, with dalit leader Mayawati demanding that the Centre make a constitutional amendment to restore the quota. The row forced the Centre to commit to uphold the facility for SCs/STs and the Centre said an all-party meeting would discuss the issue. While the meeting has not happened, NCSC's demand for extension of facility to OBCs would test the Congress's stomach for quota rows. Such an initiative would run the risk of reaction from upper castes without necessarily bringing the support of OBCs that are aligned with regional parties across states. Instead, a stumble in a likely judicial challenge would backfire politically.
The Centre is already on the back foot because of adverse rulings from the SC despite many constitutional amendments. Besides, the recent striking down of 4.5% minority sub-quota has put Congress in a quandary, with Muslim leaders accusing UPA of taking the initiative half-heartedly.
The Centre is likely to be wary of the move. If NCSC's demand fires the imagination of OBCs, it may become troublesome for the Centre since it is unlikely to be opposed by any party for fear of reaction from backwards.