Other States

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan criticises move for survey of SEBCs in Odisha

Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

A week after Odisha government approved the proposal of the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes (OSCBC) to conduct a survey of the social and educational conditions of backward classes, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday termed the move as a “dichotomous and dilatory step”.

“Backward classes constitute a considerable portion of the total population of Odisha. There are more than 210 communities identified as SEBCs [Socially and Educationally Backward Classes] in Odisha. Most of them are suffering from the twin curses of poverty and illiteracy,” Mr. Pradhan said on Twitter after addressing a press conference in New Delhi.

The senior BJP leader said, “my request for 27% reservation for socially and economically backward classes in government jobs and educational institutions in Odisha has remained unaddressed till date.”

Mr. Pradhan referred to three of his letters addressed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik emphasising on the need for providing reservation to the SEBCs in jobs and education.

“The current move for enumeration of SEBCs comes across as a dichotomous and dilatory step trying to mask the extant policies of the Odisha government denying reservations for OBCs and SEBCs categories,” he remarked.

“Even after 30 years of a provision for reservations under Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution for such communities, the Odisha government is not providing any such reservations to the OBCs in government jobs as well as in educational institutions,” Mr. Pradhan said, reiterating his demand for providing higher reservations to the OBCs in public employment and educational institutions and for the SEBCs in educational institutions on an immediate basis.

Capping of quota

The reservation for OBCs in employment is embroiled in legal controversy over the issue of capping of reservation. “Though there is unanimity among all sections of society for providing reservation to SEBCs, the State government is showing reluctance,” the Central Minister pointed out.

On the argument that there was no space for accommodating 27% quota for the SEBCs in the current reservation policy in the State, Mr. Pradhan said that in other States there was no issue of capping the reservation at 50% and reservation had been exceeded beyond that.

“The State government has enough power to enact law in State Assembly to exceed the 50% reservation cap. Nobody is questioning the government’s power to set up OSCBC and start SEBC enumeration, the government is already sitting over an SEBC list. Who is stopping it from giving reservation?,” he said.

Mr. Pradhan’s fresh salvo came close on the heels of the Naveen Patnaik government’s decision to carry out a survey of the SEBCs.

Both the BJD and the BJP have been trying to champion the cause of SEBC communities, which constitute close to 54% of Odisha’s population. As the two parties are ready to confront each other in the upcoming panchayat and civic body polls, they are trying to gain upper hand in the reservation issue.

Last year, the State government had constituted the OSCBC under the chairmanship of former High Court judge Justice Raghunath Biswal. The Naveen Patnaik government was of the view that enumeration of the SEBCs was necessary as the Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011 was not made public. Moreover, according to a Cabinet resolution, no formal census including the caste details of the population had been done since 1931.

Before going ahead with the decision to count the SEBC communities, the State government had even said that the census of SEBC communities could be done either by inserting suitable columns in the Census format or by prescribing a separate format for a simultaneous enumeration of the SEBCs and the OBCs.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 4:29:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/union-minister-dharmendra-pradhan-criticises-move-for-survey-of-sebcs-in-odisha/article33987393.ece

Next Story