Congress trying to create confusion over increase in quota for SC/ST: Bommai

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai speaking to reporters at Mysuru airport on Tuesday, December 13, 2022.
| Photo Credit: M A Sriram

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has blamed the Congress party for creating confusion over the State government’s recent decision to increase reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes communities in Karnataka.

Speaking to reporters in Mysuru enroute to Chamarajanagar on Tuesday, Mr. Bommai said the Congress was creating confusion by citing the recent reply given by the Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ms. Pratima Bhoumik in the Rajya Sabha, that there was no proposal before the Centre to alter the reservation scheme.

Mr. Bommai argued the Union Minister’s reply pertained only to the question asked by a Rajya Sabha member whether there was any proposal before the Government at present. “It (proposal) may not be at present. But, tomorrow our proposal (to increase the quota) will be presented (before the Union Government),” he said.

He accused the Congress of raking up the issue as the party was worried about losing SC and ST votes.

Congress demands answers

The Congress had sought a clarification from the Chief Minister on the status of the State Government’s proposal to increase the quota for SCs from the present 15% to 17% and for STs from 3% to 7% in light of the Union Minister’s response to a question from Dr Ambumani Ramadoss whether the Government had any proposal to relax the 50% ceiling on reservations.

The party had demanded to know how the Bommai government proposed to give effect to the increase in quota from the present 50% to 56% to accommodate the recent hike for SCs and STs.

Mr. Bommai said the Congress had ignored the demand for increasing the quota for SCs and STs, which had been pending for the last 40 years. He added that the Congress could not deceive people by assuring them internal reservation.

Referring to a recent tweet by former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah that the Congress would provide internal reservation when it came to power, Mr. Bommai said the Congress had done nothing more than organise a conference and make an assurance in this regard before the previous polls.

The Congress should learn that they cannot repeatedly deceive the people, he said.

Cabinet expansion

Though his upcoming visit to Delhi — to participate in a meeting of Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Maharashtra, convened by Home Minister Amit Shah — was to discuss the border row which is now before the Supreme Court, Mr. Bommai said he was also prepared for a discussion on a possible Cabinet expansion.

The State would clarify its stand on the issue before the Home Secretary by detailing the State Reorganisation’s Act and other processes, he said. “The meeting has been convened only to discuss the border issue. But, if they (Central leaders) take up other issues, I will go prepared,” he said.

To another question on the impact of the cyclone in Karnataka, Mr. Bommai said he had asked the Agriculture Department to conduct a survey on the extent of damage to crops in the State because of the cyclone.

Mr. Bommai also blamed the Congress for not protecting the interests of Karnataka in the Mahadayi dispute with Goa. He claimed the Congress president, during a pre-election meeting in Goa, had stated that the party would not allow a single drop of Mahadayi river water to be diverted.

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