The Congress on Monday said that it has “always supported” reservations for the economically weaker sections of society, so long as this quota does not hurt the Constitutional mandate for reservations for Dalits, Adivasis or backward classes. However, it added that the Union Cabinet’s decision to grant 10% reservation to the economically poor among upper castes has been taken with an eye on the upcoming General Elections.
“We will continue to support every such step that provides opportunities as well as employment to the economically poor sections of society,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a press conference. “However, the truth is that in the last four years and eight month, the Narendra Modi government has suddenly woken up to the woes of the economically poor, facing imminent defeat in the 2019 elections, and with 100 days to go for polls.”
This, Surjewala said, raises doubts about the government’s “honesty and bonafide intent”.
Surjewala claimed that the Modi-led government’s demonetisation and poor implementation of the Goods and Services Tax has affected farmers, traders and poor people. He said that unemployment is at a high of over 7%. The Congress spokesperson claimed that Modi, who promised two crore jobs a year, has not been able to create even nine lakh jobs per annum.
Surjewala said the Centre had admitted in Parliament that 24 lakh posts in the government are vacant. “Please offer reservations in jobs, we welcome it,” he said. “But when will you create jobs?” He claimed the youth of India were questioning the prime minister about jobs.
“How will you create a road map for creation of jobs?” Surjewala asked. “Without creating jobs, reservation in jobs may just prove to be one more ‘jumla’ for purposes of election promises.”
Earlier in the day, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi wondered whether the Centre was trying an unconstitutional thing “only to posture” since it knows it cannot exceed the 50% cap for reserved seats, as ruled by the Supreme Court in 1992. He also asked if the ruling coalition has the majority needed for constitutional amendments.