Former Union Minister Srikant Jena Demands Lifting Of 50% Reservation Restriction

08 January 2019

Debashish Maharana

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Bhubaneswar: A day after the Union Cabinet nodded for 10% reservation for the economically backward upper castes (EBUC) in Government jobs, former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Srikant Jena today pooh-poohed such a decision and rather demanded abolishing the existing 50% restriction on reservation.

He questioned, “Is this the justice?”

He cited the instance of 52% population of other backward castes (OBCs) in Odisha.

Convening a press conference, Srikant Jena said, “The Central Government is tabling a bill for 10% reservation for the general category in both education and job. In Odisha ST/SC population is about 40% at present. As there is an embargo of 50%, BJP, BJD, Congress and other parties should put forth a proposal that the State that has ST/SC population above the national average, the 50% embargo should be lifted from that State.”

He suggested, “Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party should raise this issue in Parliament and lift the embargo of 50%. This is in a bid to give justice to the people of Odisha, especially the poor, Dalits, Adivasis and backward category. Percentage of reservation should be as per the percentage of population of all categories.”

He argued, “If the 6% population will reap the benefits of 10% reservation in education and jobs, what will the 94% do? Will they remain in 11%? This is a prime point to be noted.”

He demanded, “There should be reservation in private sector also as the government sector lacks job opportunities. This reservation ought to be in private sector schools and colleges as well as jobs. Hence, BJD should make it clear on it and also raise it clearly in the Parliament.”

In his reactions, senior BJD leader and Odisha Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera said, “This issue comes under the purview of Constitutional norms. Also it has the issue of social justice. All the angles and parameters will be discussed in the Parliament. BJD will put forth its decision on it at the right time.”

Notably, with an eye on the upper caste vote in the coming Lok Sabha elections, the Union Cabinet on Monday approved 10 per cent reservation for economically backward people in general category in jobs and educational institutions.

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took the decision to provide for 10 per cent quota for people belonging to "unreserved categories", including Christians and Muslims, in jobs and education with an annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh and land holding ceiling of about five acres, highly-placed sources said.

A Constitution amendment bill for the purpose was likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha.

Also Read: Union Cabinet Nods 10% Reservation For Economically Backward Upper Castes In Govt Jobs

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Srikant Jena, Former Union Minister

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Sashi Bhusan Behera, Minister, Finance, Odisha