Ahead of elections in five States, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a proposal to fill pending vacancies under the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and OBC quota in the Central government, a move that will benefit around 50,000 people.

The proposal, discussed and approved in the Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday morning, comes soon after the government decision to allow 4.5 per cent reservation to the minorities within the OBC quota.

Sources said a Cabinet note circulated earlier stated that the government had failed to fill up the SC/ST and OBC vacancies in the Central government. The last such effort was made in 2008 when the government had launched a special recruitment drive for these categories.

Though implementation of this decision will be possible only after the polls are over as the code of conduct is in force, its announcement is apparently aimed at sending a signal to the Dalits, STs and OBCs in poll-bound States, especially Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand.

Both U.P. and Punjab have sizable Dalit population and the Congress has been trying hard to woo them. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi has tried to influence the Dalit votebank and wean them away from Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party.

The decision comes close on the heels of the earlier government move to give reservation to minorities. This was seen as a move to win over Muslims in Uttar Pradesh.

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