The Other Backward Classes are coining legal and political options to stop the inclusion of Jats, Gujjars, Patels, Marathas and Kapus in the OBC category, as has been demanded by different states. The president of National OBCs Welfare Forum, R. Krishnaiah, who met OBC MPs from across the political spectrum in New Delhi last week, told The Sunday Guardian that “any inclusion of dominant castes will damage the interests of the present castes in the list which are vulnerable and downtrodden”. The TDP MLA from L.B. Nagar, Telangana, also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several Union ministers and expressed the OBC concern.
A national convention of OBC parliamentarians will be held in New Delhi soon where the next course of action would be decided. A petition will be filed in the Supreme Court to stop attempts made by different states to include well-off castes in the OBC list.
“Leaders of OBCs all over the country are agitated over the spate of demands and raging agitations from well-off and land owning castes like Jats in Haryana, Gujjaras in Rajasthan, Patels in Gujarat, Marathas in Maharashtra and Kapus in Andhra Pradesh for OBC status. These castes are systematically creating unrest in the country to put pressure on the Centre,” said Krishnaiah.
Currently, the OBCs list at the national level has 2,600 castes and sub-castes. The agitation for inclusion of forward castes like Patels, Jats and Kapus in the OBCs list is unfair, Krishnaiah said.
Krishnaiah is said to have established contacts with OBC leaders from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the south to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the north to launch a sustained campaign against any move to expand the OBC list. He made it clear that reservations are neither poverty alleviation schemes nor privilege. “The OBC quota is meant for the uplift of socially and economically backward castes on par with other developed castes. We are not only socially discriminated against but also economically poor. In many states, the condition of many OBC castes is worse than SC/STs,” said Krishanaiah.
He pointed out that there was a variation in the OBCs lists at the national level and the states. While some states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have categories like A, B, C and D, depending on the social oppression that had taken place, Gujarat and Haryana have no such groups. There is no grouping in the Central list of OBCs, so all are equally eligible for the 27% reservations in jobs and educational opportunities.
“If dominant castes like Jats and Patels are added to the OBC list, there are chances that candidates from those castes will monopolise the reserved quotas to the exclusion of those who are really backward,” Krishaniah added.
He lamented that as per a survey conducted by the Union Social Justice Ministry, OBCs in the last 25 years got only 9% jobs as against the stipulated 27% quota.
Krishnaiah alleged that the real intention of Jats, Gujjars, Patels and Kapus was not to seek OBC status but to question the entire concept of reservation. The National OBCs Forum is open to any special economic schemes that aim to improve the conditions of Jats, Patels and Kapus, so that the youth from these communities get better education and jobs.