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  • CHAP'TER 6


    6.1 Introduction

    Reservation policy has had a profound impact or1 all political parties

    particularly since the implementation of the Mandal Comn~ission Report. Political

    parties of various lines were indccd compelled to effect a complete overhaul of

    their idcology and approach leaders from the backward class in order to give the

    party a backward caste ti-iendly appearance. At the same time several members of

    the party hclongitig to the backward class utiliscd their caste label effectively as a

    bargaining chip to gain leverage. particularly in securing party nomination during

    election5 and positions in the party leadership. Caste conglomeration, polarisation

    on caste l i ~ ~ c \ . inler-caste strife, mi~shrooming of political outfits, and defections

    from par-ties \verc tiit: i~nrnediate consequence of the decision. Many political

    parties tried 1 0 perform a line balancing act to retain its hold on upper castes and

    also to makc sonic gains over the backward castes. Certain political parties while

    supporting rcserv;itions on caste hahis also demanded the inclusion of economic

    criterion or tile cr'lation of :separate quota h r the poor among the forward castes.

    This woi~lii. t1icrcfi)re. serve then1 well in appeasing both the forward and

    backward c:~stcs. Flc~wever. none 01' the political parties dared to challenge the

    rationale ot rcscrv, i l io~~ pc~licy as sucli

  • ' h i s clialiter examines the approach and attitude of political parties towards

    tht: rcscrvalioll issue and the changc of stand adopted by them abruptly particularly

    in the wake a)l'the implementation oSMandal Commission Report.

    6.2 Congress Party

    'I-hc t'ongress party at the centre was seized of the issued of reservation for

    BC after the Supreme C'ourt's verdict against the Madras Ciovernment's communal

    order of 1947 as uncc~nstitutional. The agitation that was launched by the

    opposition lc;iilcr!; c1gain:;t the Supreme C:ourt's verdict in hladras disturbed the

    regional corlgrcss lc;~tier:; and engendered a fear of loosing their hold over the

    highly organiscd tlachward castes.' They prevailed over the then Prime Minister

    Pandit .Iawah;lrlal Nehru who then conceded to introduce the first amendment to

    the constitutio~l pr- i~vl~l~ng reiewation for the backward classes. Nehru admitted in

    Parlianicnt " I I I C I loilse hllt)ws very well and there is no need to hush it up, that this

    particular nr;+rlcr ill rllis particillar shape arose because of certain happenings in

    Madras" (Ciuhan. 1991 - 48).

    Thereoriel-. i t was then realised that steps should be taken to improve the lot

    of the backw21ril castes all over the countrq. In pursuance of this objective the First

    BC Conlrnissioll Ma:; appointed undel. the Chairmanship of Kaka Kalelkar in January

    3953. l'hc rcpor-I ( I : 1h1s commission which was submitted in 1955, recommended

    70% resen.alloll , ~ t ,:cat\ Ibr OBCs in educational institutions. tilowever. the report

    was replete will1 ~ii\scnsions by the majority of members and was even vehemently

    oppost:d h) i i h i l l ;~i t rni~i~ himself who expressed the fear that its implementation

  • would s t~~kl : c;istclst tcni;ion. I ' t ~ t , centre hence decided against the implementation

    of the report hut :it t11e same tirile allowed the states to evolve their own policy

    towards [he amelic~ra~ion of UC.5 c\en as it expressed a preference for reservations

    2 on economlc status rather than caste.

    I t \vas only alter the Janata Government's interregnum that the issue of

    reservation of seats ibr BCs in central services cropped up. The then Prime

    Minister Morarji 1)esai set up the Second BC Commission in 1979 under the

    chairnlari ship of 13inilhyeswari f'rasad Mandal a former Chief Minister of Bihar.

    The comr~~ission suhmitied its report only after the collapse of the Janata

  • report did not scc the light of the day right through the Congrcss rule up to Rajiv

    Gandhi. Thc report continued to gather dust until V. P. Singh announced his

    decision to implernet~t it ,on August 7 . 1990. The Congress, taken unawares, was

    forced to take a stanti and to procide justification for its lackadaisical attitude

    towards the implemcn~ation of the report. At one stroke it changed its stand and

    began to vociferously advocate for reservations. The violence that the decision of

    implemcntation ot'thc report unleashed and the severe accusations levelled against

    certain congress leaders for instigating violence, and the fear of losing its vote

    banks placed the part!. in an unenviable position. The Congress party accused the

    government 01 indulging in a political gimmickry in the name of providing relief to

    BC:;. It was in ordcr lo overcome the odds faced by the party due to inner party

    conflicts that such a decision was taken. Fear of the dismissed leader Devi Lal's

    boat club rail) to hc llrl'd on Auguit 9 the same ycar was according to them the

    prirne cause for the ~rnplementation i ~ f t h e report. 3

    Although the Congress part? declared full suppor~ for the implementation

    of the report, i t alzo made i t clear o f its desire for inclusion of economic criteria too

    4 alongside c:iste criterla They floated a separate outfit known as the 'Equality

    Front' in order ti) win [.he support o f the agitators and also to look and sound

    diffcrcnt'. I'lie tongrest; working committee in a last bid effbrt evolved a separate

    formula 'thc I < c t j i \ fiirn-~ula' comprising principles of economic criterion,

    reservatiorl tor erllirc lot of con~niunities other than Ilindus and waiver of fees for

    cligible caniiitiatcs L I ~ I J ~ I - the Matidal Report." However the formula was rejected

    by the st~ttch I n :I r,rtllel surprisin: statcment Kajic Ciandhi accepted that the party

  • had cornlnittcd rn:st;~hes with regard to reservation policy but absolved himself of

    any blame or rcspon\ibil::ty for it.s She congress also accused the prime minister

    of diluting thc reco~n~ncndations b) excluding several sectors from the ambit o f

    reservations as suggested in the Mandal Report. "Even on the question of

    reservations while the Prime Ministcr has been saying again and again that there

    will be no dilution 01 the provision of reservations, he has announced so many

    exemptions. Fir:it he said reservations would not be applicable to the defence

    sector. Then came tbc clarification (hat they would not be imposed on states and

    would not he applicable to educational institutions. Finally. the Prime Minister

    said reservations would riot be applicable to promotions" (Reddy 1990: 32).

    The assassination of Rajiv Ciandhi had a lulling effect on the intensity o f

    anti and pro-reservation stirs across the country. However the members of the

    agitation werr still a l ~ \ ' e with various political parties in red alert to reap dividends

    of it. '('he Narasin-iha l

  • by this part~cuia~- (Sel~ stroke." Nonc of the pat-ties could accuse him of betraying

    the noble cause ol'social justice lor he had only widened the ambit of reservations

    by clubbing the H C ' and the poor ainong the forward castes giving the policy a

    12 class orientat~on rather than a caste orientation.

    6.3 Janata Dal and the Mandal Commission Report

    The itnplementation crf the Matidal Commission Report although did feature in

    the Janata L h l ~natutksto. did not figure prominently in its election campaigns. It did

    neither fcat~lrc in the ('ommc,n Minimum Programme formulated along with its allies

    like the RSI' ; u a i tllc I eti parties in the govenlatlce of the country. The National Front

    (comprising the J~inata I )a]. BJP and 1,cfi parties) was voted to power not on the promise

    of implementation of tile Mandal report but due to the allegations of cormption and

    other evils levelled against the Congress Clod led by Rajiv Gandhi. Riding on the crest

    of the wave { i t ' pcrsonal popularity 01 V. 1'. Singh, the National Front succeeded in

    dislodging the C'o~iggress tiom power.

    Howc\cr its success was slrort lived with infighting within the party

    bccoming a daily affair. irhc Janata l)al was a loose conglomeration of disgruntled

    politicians and clctkctors particularly from the Congress party. In the initial stages

    itself there prevailed severe discontent among the other two major leaders like

    Chandrasckhnl- and 1)evilal with re l i rd to V.P Singh's elevation to the post of

    I i t'rime Minisri.1 I)e\ 1la1 althougll appointed as Deputy I'rinie Minister became a

    severe hcatlacl~c to I' I' Singh w h ( ~ began meddling illto affairs other than his

    p i ~ t o l i o . I[ tlc.g;t~i ( ( 1 be ;I great hind1 :lnce not only to V.P Singh but it also evoked

  • the ire of thc .~llles I c.. the BJI' and the Left. Together they expelled Devilal from

    the National IFront ( h F ) governnletlt. Devilal in a bid to avenge his expulsion

    decided to oiganise i~ huge rally in the boat club Maidan in New Delhi on August

    9, 1990 with the