Reservations for Marathas: Devendra Fadnavis is fooling nobody when he mouths platitudes of social justice
By Firstpost 30-Jun-2019
When it comes to reservations, I like to think of two Lakshmana rekhas that should never be crossed. One is a legal one: the Supreme Court’s 50 percent ceiling on total reservations. The second — 70 percent — is a psychological one, mentioned randomly by Ambedkar 70 years ago. The Father of the Constitution spoke of it not as a rule but to warn us against the ridiculousness of stretching reservations too far.
Even before reservations were extended to Marathas last year, Maharashtra’s total quotas (for SC/STs, and Other Backward Classes or OBCs) stood at 52 percent, a wee bit beyond the Supreme Court limit. This went up to 62 percent, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 10 percent supposed bonanza for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), an election gimmick targeting upper castes, announced three months before the recent Lok Sabha poll. With the high court approving the Maratha reservations of 12 percent in seats and 13 in jobs, the state’s total goes up to 74-75 percent, beyond Ambedkar’s psychological barrier.
Unless the Supreme Court strikes down the verdict — petitioners have promised to go for an appeal — Maharashtra will be in the exalted company of Tamil Nadu in crossing both the Lakshmana rekhas with legal and political genius. Tamil Nadu accomplished the feat of 69 percent reservations through the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, and Modi’s EWS farce jacked it up to 79 percent.
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