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The OBC backlash

The OBC backlash
Highlights

The issue of reservations for Kapus is increasingly getting complex as it is embroiled in political conflict and possible legal wrangle. Even as the Government of Andhra Pradesh is moving with measures aimed at convincing the Kapu agitators of its sincere intention to implement the promise, the chief protagonist of quota for Kapus, Mudragada Padmanabham, is preparing for a hunger strike that has a

The issue of reservations for Kapus is increasingly getting complex as it is embroiled in political conflict and possible legal wrangle. Even as the Government of Andhra Pradesh is moving with measures aimed at convincing the Kapu agitators of its sincere intention to implement the promise, the chief protagonist of quota for Kapus, Mudragada Padmanabham, is preparing for a hunger strike that has a potential to trigger more political concern.

The OBC leader and Telangana TDP MLA R Krishnaiah has raised a banner of revolt. The OBCs are gearing up for a showdown against Kapu reservations. The polarisation between Kapus and OBCs has a potential to further vitiate the atmosphere. The concern of the OBCs is that the entry of Kapus, a relatively more developed community, into this privileged club would harm their interests.

The Kapus cite the electoral promise of TDP to implement the quota. The TDP which reaped rich dividends through its electoral promise for Kapus is preaching morals to the opposition to eschew politics. The opposition is busy, politically harvesting an opportunity. If this conflict continues, political parties are more likely to incite passions on both sides as they did during the debate over state bifurcation. The political expediency makes it irreconcilable.

Reservations are not a political question. They are not even like a populist promise like loan waiver. They are a constitutional scheme of positive discrimination through an affirmative action. Any such administrative action is subject to judicial review. The political parties are oblivious to this constitutional reality as they are normally keen on fishing in troubled waters to score political points.

The opposition leader wants the government to provide quota for Kapus over and above the present OBC reservations. He even advised the Chief Minister to take the example of Tamil Nadu. But, following such an advice is fraught with legal problems.

The judiciary has clearly held that reservations cannot go beyond 50 per cent. The Supreme Court states that even a law included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution can also be subject of judicial review if it violates the basic structure. This may deprive the Andhra Pradesh government of the luxury of keeping reservations beyond 50 per cent.

The apex court verdict in Jats case has already stated that caste alone cannot be the criterion for reservations and a group of people should be most depressed to be eligible for reservation benefits. The Kapus must satisfy this condition. The fate of the laws continues to be redefined in the light of the latest interpretation of the Constitution by the apex court, which becomes the supreme law of the land.

The Chandrababu Naidu government faces an uphill task to implement the promised quota for Kapus, given the legal and the political constraints. The government cannot even expect a political consensus as it was already the beneficiary of such a promise to Kapus.

The short-sighted political culture is to be blamed for this political impasse on such a sensitive issue that has a potential to divide the society along caste lines. The political parties need to show sagacity and an understanding of the evolution of constitutional position while making political promises.

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