Heard Ms. Jayanti Natarajan, Congress Party MP, put up a spirited defence of the Reservation Policy, in the ‘Big Fight” program of NDTV. In fact, she dismissed all objections with one argument which, if my memory serves me right, was :
“ I will not be brow-beaten by this urban audience. Reservation for OBCs was part of the Election manifesto of the Congress Party; the party was elected to power on that basis and has the mandate to make the changes; the issue was debated in Parliament and the Act passed. We are only doing what the people want and what they have elected us to do.”
Without getting into the merit or demerit of reservation, I tried to check out a few facts, just out of curiosity:
1) Is the issue cited as a key action area in the Congress Manifesto? The only reference I could find was:
“The Congress believes in affirmative action for all religious and linguistic minorities. The Congress has provided for reservations for Muslims in Kerala and Karnataka in government employment and education on the grounds that they are a socially and educationally backward class. The Congress is committed to adopting this policy for socially and educationally backward sections among Muslims and other religious minorities on a national scale. The Congress also pledges to extend reservations for the economically deprived persons belonging to communities that are at present not entitled to such reservations.”
So, the affirmative action promised is limited to religious and linguistic minorities. There is also a specific mention of economically deprived persons belonging to communities that are at present not entitled to such reservations. Isn’t this one of the suggestions made by the anti-reservationists too ?
2) Did the people elect the Congress Party to power ?
Statistics show that, in the 2004 Lok Sabha Elections a) 67% of the citizens were eligible to vote b) the voter turn-out was 54% and c) about 26.53% voted for the Congress. What this means is that 67% x 54% x 26.53% = a paltry 9.5% of the people of India voted for the Congress. If you look at the percentage voting for the NDA and UPA alliances, the former actually garnered more no. of votes. Congress came to power on the basis of the reluctant support given by the Left parties. With 9.5% of the people voting for them, on what basis do they claim that they reflect the will of the people ? Fine, electoral arithmetics works in a certain manner and they formed the Govt. But, will of the people ?
3) How many people in India read the manifesto, before voting ? Even if one reads the manifesto and then votes for the Congress, does it imply that he or she has endorsed all the points there ?
4) If Congress is so committed to implementation of all the promises made in the manifesto, how about taking up the hundreds of other issues on which action has been promised ? At least the one mentioned in the last para
“Within 100 days of receiving the mandate of the people of our country, the Congress will release a detailed action plan with milestones for governance based largely on the promises and commitments made in this manifesto. Every year on October 2nd, the Congress pledges to present to the people of India a Jan Dastavejh on the progress of implementation of the manifesto.”
5) Debates in Parliament ? Have you heard one or heard of one ?