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Congress In A Cleft Stick On EWS Quota; Could Hurt Its Support Base Among Jats, Lingayats & Marathas

When the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Modi Government’s decision to implement 10% reservation in jobs and higher educational institutions for the economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category, the Congress initially welcomed the court’s ruling. The party even claimed credit for implementation of the reservation meant for the poor among general category people. The 10% quota, based on economic status, excludes the SCs, STs and the OBC, who already have 49.5% seats reserved for them in government jobs and higher education. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the amendment was the result of a process initiated in 2005-06 by the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government. The government had appointed a three-member commission, headed by Major General (Retd) SR Sinho which submitted its report in July 2010. Both the Congress and Modi government have cited the Sinho Commission report as the basis for the legislation. Now, it seems the initial enthusiasm for the EWS quota of the Congress has waned and the party is caught in a cleft stick. That is because the DMK is in no mood to implement EWS quota as Tamil Nadu is already providing 69% reservation. The DMK is stoking anti-Brahmin sentiment over EWS. Interestingly, the Congress manifesto for the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections had taken a different stand. Any anti- EWS stand by the Congress could ultimately hurt its Jat, Lingayat and Maratha support base.