BJD to present stand on quota bill after study: Naveen Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: A day after Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved 10 per cent reservation for economically-weaker sections in general category; Odisha Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik today categorically stated that his party is always in favour of the development of the poor.

“We (BJD) will present our stand after going through the bill,” said Patnaik while speaking to reporters after submitting a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind following his party’s Krushak Adhikar Yatra held at New Delhi today.

On the other hand, the issue of 10 per cent quota has elicited mixed reactions from several political parties back in Odisha. Senior Congress leader Srikant Jena today opposed it while BJD leaders hailed the decision but with a caution. Srikant Jena maintained that nearly 92% population in Odisha are OBC, dalit, tribals and other minority communities while the upper or the general castes only constitute a mere 6%. Hence, reservations should be provided proportionate to population.

“Citing Supreme Court order that the reservations could not exceed 50 %, Odisha government had not provided reservations to the other backward classes (OBC) which constitutes 52% of the total population. The quota for OBC has been limited to 11% where as the quota for OBC is 27 % in other States,” said Jena.

Jena said that in Odisha there is a special situation as the dalit and OBC population is more i.e, nearly 40% as against the national average of 22%. Even though Supreme Court had clarified that in case of any such abnormalities in States, the total reservations can go beyond 50%, he added.

“Twenty five years after the implementation of Mandal Commission recommendations, OBCs are getting only 11% reservation in jobs and none in education in Odisha. It is now an opportunity for Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and BJD MPs to try to bring an amendment to abolish 50% reservation cap as the total population of OBC, SC, ST constitutes nearly 94% of total population of the State,” Jena added.

BJD MP Prasanna Acharya on the other hand stated that there is a need to support the poor and there is no point opposing those who will take steps for their upliftment.

Union Minister and senior BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan stated, “It is a historic decision as for the first time steps are being taken to come up with a special facility for poor and weaker sections. I do not think there will be any opposition as leaders cutting across party lines will support it.”

Earlier, the Union Cabinet on Monday approved amendments to allow 10% reservation for economically weaker sections within the general category in jobs and education. The proposed 10 % reservation will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation enjoyed by the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes, taking the total reservation to 60%.