Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav today slammed the manner in which the Narendra Modi government had implemented 10% reservation for the economically backward among the upper castes, saying that its consequences will be just as damaging for the nation as the demonetisation initiative in 2016. "We strongly oppose the hasty way in which the reservation law was enacted. Without conducting any study, probe or analysis of the situation, the centre changed the very spirit of the constitution in a matter of hours," he tweeted, accusing the ruling BJP of casteism.
The RJD and Tamil Nadu's AIADMK were among the few parties to oppose the bill, which provided for 10% reservation in education and jobs for the economically backward in the general category, in parliament earlier this month. A notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice on January 12 stated that Constitution (103 Amendment) Act-2019 has received President Ram Nath Kovind's approval.
Questioning the government's decision to fix an income ceiling of Rs 8 lakh per year as the eligibility criterion for availing reservation benefit, Mr Yadav wondered how people who earn Rs 66,666 per month can be classified as economically backward. "People in this income slab have to pay Rs 72,500 per month as tax every year. Now, how can people who pay so much tax be given benefits due to the poor? Hail the scholars, hail Modiji," he tweeted.
The RJD leader also criticised the government for not raising the ceiling in reservations for Scheduled Caste and Other Backward Class communities. "The backward castes of this country have been demanding that the 50% ceiling for reservations be increased for many years now, but the government did nothing. And yet, they took barely a few hours to ensure reservation for the upper castes," Mr Yadav said, terming the new law as the "beginning of the end" for the Modi government.
Despite being passed in parliament, the reservation law faces legal hurdles ahead. Pleas challenging the government's initiative have already been filed in the Supreme Court. The petition wants the Supreme Court to discard the law because "economic criterion cannot be the sole basis for reservation".
Shortage of government jobs may also act as a deterrent for the judiciary to let the reservation law pass. Data from the Ministry of Finance shows that the number of government jobs in the country has shrunk from 37.17 lakh in 2012-13 to 36.34 lakh in 2015-16. As of now, there are just four lakh vacancies in government jobs.
(With inputs from Agencies)