'Caste'ing aside all reason PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 05 December 2016 04:53
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Sarthak's edit


Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah baiting the state unit of BJP—and also the BJP-led Union government—into competitive caste politics, by proposing to bring a law to provide 70% reservation to SCs, STs, and OBCs in the state, and pushing for its inclusion in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, spells a new low. The chief minister cited the case of neighbouring Tamil Nadu where a state law guaranteeing 69% reservation—overshooting the 50% cap set by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case—was included in the Ninth Schedule in 1994, and said the Opposition leader in the state assembly, BJP’s KS Eshwarappa, must persuade the Centre on a similar status for the proposed quota increase. While the Karnataka Opposition, as per a report in Deccan Herald, has supported the proposal, it, as well as the Union government, would do well to keep in mind that, apart from the obvious ills of such cynical politicking, even a Ninth Schedule cover may not hold up if the Supreme Court were to view the proposed law as an attempt to subvert its order.

In the Keshavananda Bharati case in 1973, a 13-judge SC bench ruled that the legislature’s right to legislate did not allow it to emasculate or destroy the basic feature of the Constitution. And, in the IR Coelho case in 2007, the SC had ruled that if the purpose of a law’s inclusion under the Ninth Schedule was to bypass a particular judgment that it had delivered earlier, then the courts could take this up suo motu. Given a 70% reservation breaches the Indra Sawhney ceiling and violates the fundamental right to equality, the apex court is only too likely to strike down the proposed law even if the Union government takes Siddaramaiah’s bait. Besides, as the 2014 general elections showed, India is already voting with its feet to abandon the casteist politics the Karnataka chief minister is espousing with an eye on the 2018 elections in the state—as a CSDS-Lokniti analysis for CNN-IBN showed 55% of upper castes preferred Modi over 11% for Rahul Gandhi; it was 38% to 13% for upper OBCs, 46% to 11% for lower OBCs, 35% to 18% for the STs and 29% to 14% for the SCs. So, there is no guaranteeing that even the communities that would intuitively seem to benefit from the quota increase would vote for a party unless it comes to them with an agenda for development and growth.



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