The freebies are raining in this season of the election. After Congress cleared farmers’ loans in its recently conquered states, now it is the time for BJP to throw similar freebies. The Narendra Modi government Monday decided to amend the Constitution to provide for 10 percent reservation for ‘economically backward’ upper castes in direct recruitment in government services and admission to higher educational institutions, highly placed sources confirmed.

A good move by the government for taking the initiative of making the economic background as the criterion for reservation. Though similar suggestions have been made by political leaders like Mayawati and Ramdas Athavale in the past, this is the first substantial move to take legislative route to provide for this change. An attempt to provide for 10 percent reservation to poor or economically backward among other sections during the Narasimha Rao government’s tenure to offset political backlash against the implementation of Mandal Commission recommendations was nullified by the Supreme Court in the early 90s.

“Narasimha Rao government’s attempt was thrown out as it violated the basic structure of 50 percent ceiling,” confided a highly placed source revealing that “this time this basic structure is changed to provide for reservation up to 60 percent”.

“Additionally, a new criterion of economically weaker section as eligible for reservation will be provided for through the Constitution Amendment,” confided the source to stress how the Government move is conscious of keeping its legislative move immune from legal challenges. The move will require amending Article 16 of the Constitution to provide for reservation for economically weaker sections.

Sources, in this backdrop, revealed that the EWS category will be defined as families with income (includes agricultural income as well as from profession) below Rs 8 lakh per annum, possessing agricultural land below five acre and residential house below 1,000 square feet. As for urban areas, those with residential plot below 100 yards in notified municipality or residential plot below 200 yards in the non-notified municipal area.

The upper caste communities, in turn, voiced their protest over Government’s alacrity in addressing the concerns of Dalit communities of the issue. Senior BJP leaders, in this context, expressed that the BJP faced hostile Upper Castes in the recently concluded assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh.

The move by the center appears as an attempt by the BJP-led government to address grievances among the upper castes ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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