Almost a week after the Odisha government approved a proposal by the Odisha State Backward Class Commission (OSBCC) to conduct a survey of the socio-economic conditions of the backward classes in the state, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has criticized the move as a “dichotomous step trying to mask the extant policies of the State govt. denying reservations for OBCs and SEBCs categories.”
In a series of tweets after a press conference, Pradhan said despite writing to the CM of Odisha twice seeking reservations for OBCs in government jobs and educational institutions and for SEBCs in educational institutions in Odisha, his request has remained unanswered till date.
Emphasising that even after 30 years of a provision for reservations under Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution for such communities, the state government is yet to provide any such reservations, Pradhan said, “Backward classes constitute a considerable portion of the total population of Odisha. There are more than 210 communities identified as SEBCs in Odisha. Most of them are suffering from the twin curses of poverty and illiteracy.”
“State Government has rules to provide reservations to OBCs/SEBCs. If the State Government wished, they could provide appropriate reservations to backward classes in education and employment. Many states have implemented the 27% quota and states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Bihar have raised the reservation quota to a much-higher percentage, in accordance with the population of these special categories,” he added.
Earlier the opposition in the state had criticized the move and dubbed it as vote bank politics ahead of the rural polls. The survey to revise the OBC list is all set to begin from May 1. Socially and educationally backward classes in the state account for around 54% of the state’s population. There are nearly 209 communities identified as SEBCs in the state The survey is scheduled to be conducted between May 1 and May 20.