That to claim reservation in promotions is not a fundamental right, however any state, if it wishes to, can exercise discretion and make such a provision – was held by the Supreme Court in its recent verdict on February 7. Aside from the legal intricacies involved, the judgment has put the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a tough spot, inviting a protest spree against it – both at centre and at state level in Uttarakhand.
In Uttarakhand, a party to the SC case, two associations of employees, one led by SCs/STs and the other by members of the General category and OBCs have taken to the streets against each other. Both sides have their own set of demands from the Trivendra Singh Rawat-led BJP government in the state.
The employees association representing Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes demands that the centre and state come together and resolve the issue and not deprive marginalized communities of reservation in promotion.
According to Karam Ram, state president of the SC/ST Employee Federation, the state government had formed a committee led by ex-Chief Secretary Indu Kumar Pandey before the then Congress Government’s decision to not provide reservation to SCs and STs in September 2012. The committee was formed to assess the adequacy of their representation in public posts.
Establishing inadequacy in representation, the committee filed its report, despite which the then Vijay Bahuguna-led government decided to not give quotas, added Ram. This is also noted by the Supreme Court in its February verdict.
Ram had earlier told NewsClick that social discrimination against SCs and STs still exists in thought and practice, especially in rural pockets of the country.
It is in this backdrop that Ram demands the state government to provide reservations in appointments and promotions to public posts. To press for the same, the employees’ association has announced a state-wide agitation from February 23.
On the hand, Deepak Joshi, president of General-OBC Workers Organization explains their complaint with the BJP government. “There are no promotions in the state since April 2019,” he told NewsClick.
Joshi added that the organisation will launch an indefinite strike from March 2, if reservations in promotion is foisted upon them.
Bhim Army Calls For Bharat Bandh
To oppose the apex court’s ruling which states that quota is not a fundamental right, Ambedkarite Dalit outfit Bhim Army has called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on February 23.
Earlier this week, while addressing over thousand protesters at a march in the national capital, the organisation’s chief Chandrashekhar Azad gave a call to “save reservation in promotion, to remove CAA-NRC-NPR and to protect the Constitution.” He further demanded that the Centre brings an ordinance and includes reservations in the ninth schedule of the Constitution.
At a time when political parties are gearing up for state elections in Bihar, the nationwide call for a shutdown also received support from opposition parties. The Communist Party of India (CPI), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress party in Bihar have extended their moral support to the bandh.