Quota verdict - a mixed electoral bag for Congress?

April 10th, 2008 - 5:54 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) The Supreme Court verdict upholding the law to provide 27 percent quotas for backward class students in government-run institutions of higher learning may force the Congress to walk a tightrope in the 2009 general elections. “It could be a double-edged verdict for the Congress. There could be a backlash from the upper castes,” said political commentator G.V.L. Narasimha Rao.

“The Congress is trying to reach out to other backward classes (OBCs). But traditional caste based parties like the DMK and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) may end up being the real beneficiaries of the court verdict,” he underlined.

The OBCs, he said, are a “natural” constituency for parties like the DMK, RJD and the Samajwadi Party. These regional parties, rather than the Congress, Rao said, are likely to get more credit in the general election for the OBC quota bill.

In fact, regional parties, like the DMK, RJD and the Samajwadi Party are a step ahead of the Congress in demanding that there should be no exclusion of creamy layer from the OBC quota bill.

“For the Congress it is best to remain an umbrella party which can address all sections of the people,” said Rao.

The Congress, which has traditionally been a party of upper castes, however, exuded confidence and said court verdict Thursday would sharpen its electoral edge.

“It is a revolutionary step and will definitely help the Congress in the polls,” said senior Congress leader and party spokesperson Veerappa Moily, who had chaired the oversight committee instituted in 2006, to work out the nitty-gritty of the implementation of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservations in Admission) bill.

Shrugging off the possibility of Congress bearing the brunt of upper caste anger, Moily said, “There will be no reduction in the general quota of seats. We have already released additional money for stepping up the resources in higher educational institutions.”

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