Congress President Sonia Gandhi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, protesting against the denial of admissions to Other Backward Classes in state medical colleges through quota system via the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, or NEET.
Gandhi said that under the All India Quota, 15%, 7.5% and 10% seats in government colleges are reserved for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the economically weaker sections of society. However, reservation for OBC candidates is restricted to central institutions. She said that according to data compiled by the All India Federation of Other Backward Classes, the denial of quota for OBCs since 2017 resulted in the group losing 11,000 seats in medical colleges run by states and Union Territories.
The Congress president claimed that denial of admission to OBCs under the All India Quota violates the objectives of the 93rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution. The amendment says that nothing in Article 19 of the Constitution shall prevent the state (the central government) from making any special provision by law for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes, in educational institutions.
“In the interest of equity and social justice, I strongly urge the Union Government to extend reservation for OBC candidates in All India Quota of medical and dental seats, even in the State/UT medical education institutions,” Gandhi wrote.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi, who tweeted the letter, said that he strongly supports Sonia Gandhi’s push for “affirmative action”, as it is vital for social justice.
A report in The Times of India earlier on Friday said that the National Commission for Backward Classes has dropped its opposition to include “salary” in an “income test” to decide if a person from the Other Backward Classes belongs to the “creamy layer”. The “creamy layer” in Other Backward Classes, seen as relatively well-off, is not entitled to 27% reservation in government jobs and education.
However, according to an official memorandum issued in 1993, salary and agricultural income are excluded from the “income test” to decide if the person belongs to the creamy layer of the OBCs. The National Commission for Backward Castes is yet to take a final decision on the inclusion or exclusion of “salary” from the income test for OBC individuals.
But the Narendra Modi-led government has also proposed increasing the income ceiling for the “creamy layer” for Other Backward Classes from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 12 lakh per annum, The Times of India reported.