Will quota move, prove to be game changer?


When Union cabinet led by Narendra Modi announced its decision on 7th January 2019, before people of country to provide 10% reservation in education and government jobs to those people who comes from unreserved category and not covered by the reservation net of 49.5% which has been extended to the people of SC, ST and OBC. It was described in some quarters as game changer for general elections due in next few months.  

The decision was surrounded with political overtones due to the timing of the decision as government claimed the demand was pending before governments for last 17 years and Narendra Modi  decided to fulfill the demand with its motive of governance to take every section of people along with them which they call “ Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas”. The political parties from opposition were cautious in their reaction to not criticize the move and welcome it with their riders and question mark with timing of the decision.

It was pertinent question before any observer to think what motivated the union cabinet to swing in action to extend the reservation to the poor from non reserved category. Governments does not work in vacumn and politics is all about the art of winning the people’s perception and the fact cannot be denied that Narendra Modi led government is battling to keep its momentum and aura among people  to get reelected for second term in general elections in next few months.

The defeat of BJP led governments in just concluded three Hindi speaking states in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh sounded alarm bells for BJP and they were  forced to rethink about their strategy and Narendra Modi who has been working for his government to engrain the perception in the minds of  people of country to be perceived as party which cares for poor and works for their welfare decided  to extend the quota to people from poor class who  falls in  non reserved category in pursuit of his political theme and gives another argument to his party and their supporter to reach out to people of country with an achievement and initiative .

It would be unfair to decode the motive of the decision to extend the quota among non reserved category with such generous analysis. The timing of the decision indicates that motive of the decision is more loaded with politics rather than economics.

The sudden decision of the union cabinet had the potential to change the headlines from media from Rafale to reservation and two other big events skips the media space very easily due to the sudden decision on reservation. The 48 hours shut down call from different trade unions which was due to happen on 8th January 2019 could not meet the eyes of the people and the deteriorating crisis among laborers and other working class along with agrarian crisis fails to become the headlines in national media and the other big crisis in the making in north east too could not become part of discussion which has born out of differences on the proposed New Citizenship bill.

The two bigger crisis which could have reshaped the discourse of the whole debate in country with portrayal of Narendra Modi government as not taking care of poor and creating crisis like situation in North East with his governance model of unilateral decision making, had been deviated with his sudden decision to extend the reservation to poor and under privilege from non reserved category.  

The immediate effect has been visible to change the headlines from nationwide shut down and protest in North East to reservation but the political implications does not seem working in the direction as government hoped.  The sudden decision to extend reservation to non reserved people created an   enthusiasm  among BJP leaders which they compared as game changer announcement as they hoped other political parties would not be supporting this move and find them in dilemma on this issue but every political party welcomed the move and only questioned the timing of the announcement with their demand of  more transparent accountability from government  about its operational part and it has made this decision the welcome move with all eyes on government how they keep their promise to bring this decision into operation.

The decision of government to extend the reservation to non reserved category does not ends the debate on unemployment, job creation and agrarian crisis and the persistent efforts from Narendra Modi to build an impression for his government to be working for the welfare of poor cannot succeed unless some serious change happens on ground in this regard. The poor implementation of his flagship schemes and side effects of his economic decision are so severe that such token decisions on reservation will not help him to beat the perception for his government which bears huge communication gap between government and people of country.