New Delhi: The BJP hopes to boost its standing among backward classes with the government's decision to raise the "creamy layer" ceiling on jobs reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and also to form a committee to examine the possibility of a sub-quota for the most marginalised communities within the OBCs.
Prominent BJP leaders of backward classes hailed the announcement as "historic" and "unparallelled", saying these measures addressed two major demands that the OBC group had been pressing for over several years.
"It is an unparalleled step towards empowering backward classes. The average income among them had risen with time and there was an increasing demand to raise the creamy layer bar. The decision will provide reservation benefits to many more people," BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav said.
He said the government had taken a decision which would help the most deprived among backward classes.
The Union Cabinet increased the creamy layer ceiling for the OBC category to Rs eight lakh per annum from the existing Rs six lakh for central government jobs.
It also approved setting up of a commission to examine the sub-categorisation of backward communities in the central list to ensure that the benefits extended to the OBC reached all communities.
The twin moves are being seen as a balancing act as dominant castes among the OBC have long viewed with suspicion any move at sub-categorising quotas.
In raising the ceiling by over 33 percent, the government has given the more influential OBC groups something to cheer at as more of them can now benefit from quotas.
"It is a historic decision. The Modi government has met two long-pending demands of the OBC. The National Commission for Backward Classes in 2011 and a parliamentary panel in 2015 called for sub-categorisation among the OBC," Union minister Santosh Gangwar, a Kurmi leader from Uttar Pradesh, said.
Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, a party MP and former Union minister, said OBC members of Parliament had long been raising the demand for increasing the creamy layer ceiling.
Extremely backward sections of the OBC have been pushing for a quota as well, he said.
"It is a very welcome move. OBCs across the country will laud it," he said.
The BJP leaders pointed out that sub-categorisation already exists in many states, including Bihar, where it was introduced by former chief minister Karpoori Thakur to ensure that members of the extremely backward communities benefited from OBC quotas.
At a time some dominant backward castes, such as Yadavs, are being seen as adversarial to the BJP in states like Bihar and UP, the government's move to ensure a fixed quota for the extremely backward sections is likely to help the saffron party build its vote base.
Non-Yadav OBCs were believed to have contributed to the party's victory in the UP Assembly polls.
However, by also raising the creamy layer ceiling the government has sent out the message that it is alive to the concerns of the numerically strong backward groups such as Yadavs and Kurmis.
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Updated Date: Aug 23, 2017 21:07:42 IST