Karnataka govt moves to hike ST reservation

Karnataka govt moves to hike ST reservation

Quota in state

Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar has been tasked with exploring various options on increasing reservation for the Scheduled Tribes (ST), an issue that witnessed serious discussion in the state Cabinet meeting Friday. 

Faced with protests from the Valmiki community, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, earlier this week, had assured appropriate measures to increase the quantum of ST reservation to 7.5 % from the existing 3% in two months.

“If we do this (increasing the quantum of ST reservation), should we form a committee or a commission? And the Supreme Court has set a 50% ceiling on reservation. So, can we do this within the ceiling or exceed it? If we do it within the ceiling, it would eat into the reservation of others. So, what can be done? These are two aspects the chief secretary has been asked to examine and submit a report at the next Cabinet meeting,” Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said, briefing reporters. 

At present, Karnataka provides 15% reservation for SCs, 3% for STs and 32% for the other backward classes (OBC) — totalling to 50%. These include 101 scheduled castes, 50 scheduled tribes and 207 OBCs, which include Muslims, Christians and Jains. 

According to sources, the Cabinet also took note of the Bombay High Court order upholding Maharashtra’s reservation quota for Marathas, which breaches the 50% ceiling set by the Supreme Court in the landmark 1993 Indra Sawhney judgement. 

Tamil Nadu, with 69% reservation, is the only other state where quotas exceed the SC cap. This was made possible by getting its reservation law included in Schedule 9 of the Constitution. Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have proposed introducing reservation exceeding the 50% cap. 

Earlier in the day, Congress’ ST leaders Satish Jarkiholi, E Tukaram, V S Ugrappa, T Raghumurthy, K N Rajanna and R Dhruvanarayana held talks with Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao on the reservation issue. 

Apparently, the leaders expressed fear that the community was moving away from the Congress. They demanded that the government take a clear stand on the reservation issue soon. Rao is said to have assured them that he would reach out to Kumaraswamy. He also asked the leaders to make sure the community’s votes remain with the Congress.

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