Need for debate
Demand to revisit quota policy would be the last thing which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would have wanted to <g data-gr-id="33">be come</g> from Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan <g data-gr-id="32">Bhawat</g> ahead of the Assembly elections in Bihar, where politics is caste-driven. In an interview to its publications “Organiser” and “Panchjanya”, Bhagwat has stressed <g data-gr-id="35">on </g>the need to revisit the caste-based reservation policy in government jobs and educational institutions. He has suggested setting up of an apolitical committee to examine who needs the facility and for how long. Bhagwat believes that reservation policy has been used so far for political ends and even claimed that that the policy of reservations based on social backwardness being extended now is not in line with what the makers of the Indian Constitution had in mind.
Such suggestions from the Sangh head is bound to be pregnant with political repercussions, and no wonder the BJP has rushed to distance itself from the enumerations made by Bhagwat claiming that there was no need for reconsideration of the reservation policy. Political compulsions may push BJP into acquiring an <g data-gr-id="26">ostrich like</g> stance on the matter but the increasing demand by politically and financially empowered <g data-gr-id="27">castes <g data-gr-id="21">likes</g></g> the Patels in Gujarat, and the Jats in Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh calls for a wider debate on the matter.
The UPA government under Dr Manmohan Singh gave reservation to Jats under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category ahead of the last Lok Sabha polls. The Congress did get many returns from this political investment and the order giving Jats OBC status too was subsequently quashed by the Supreme Court. Similar pressure is now being brought on the NDA government by these castes, whose numbers are increasing by the day. Allowing reservation to these castes denies benefits to the comparatively weaker castes within the OBC category. Moreover, the non-implementation of the creamy layer rule too has led to the accrual of the quota benefit to the prosperous and the rich within the OBC, defeating the very purpose of quota policy.
There certainly is the need to revisit the quota policy or at least start a debate on the matter. There is merit in Bhagwat’s demand that the quota policy should be implemented by a non-political committee like autonomous commissions, and the political authorities should monitor them for honesty and integrity. But then this is easier said than done as any revisit to the quota policy would invite resistance from the politically most empowered castes. Getting them on board would not be easy.