On a day when most Opposition parties launched an attack on the government to share the 2011 caste census, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, on Tuesday, highlighted a unique situation. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Baghel urged him to include the state’s amended provisions to provide 76% reservation for SC, ST OBC and RWS in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution “based on the population” of the state.
Significantly, the letter comes a day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called for a caste census at Kolar in Karnataka, raising the slogan “jitni aabadi, utini haq’ – indicating that quota should be proportional to the population.
The Reservation (Amendment) Bill passed by the Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly in December 2022 provides for 13% reservation for Scheduled Castes, 32% for Scheduled Tribes, 27% for Other Backward Classes, and 4% for Economically Weaker Sections in the state.
In the letter, the Chief Minister has mentioned that inclusion of the amended provisions of reservation in the ninth schedule of the Constitution would ensure justice for the deprived and marginalized sections of the society, considering the special circumstances of the state. He has requested the Prime Minister to direct all concerned officials to take necessary action in this regard.
Baghel pointed out that reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes were provisioned at 12%, 32%, and 14% (total 58%) respectively since 2013, which was annulled by the Chhattisgarh High Court in 2022.
In December 2022, the state Assembly unanimously passed a Bill based on the population of different categories to increase the reservation percentage for SC, ST and Other Backward Classes, and EWS people to 13%, 32%, 27%, and 4%, respectively. This Bill is currently pending with the Governor for assent.
In the past month, proposals to increase reservation percentages for various categories have been passed in the Jharkhand and Karnataka legislatures. The letter also notes that in Tamil Nadu, where per capita income is much higher than Chhattisgarh and also in several states in the Northeast, reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and OBCs are more than 50%.
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