Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday stirred the hornets' nest, which could have political ramifications not just in his state but several others in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Naidu announced the state government will give only five per cent reservation to the economically weaker sections (EWS) under the Narendra Modi government's 10 per cent quota, and reserve the remaining five per cent for the upper caste Kapus.
The move could pave the way for communities like Marathas, Jats, Gujjars and Patidars who have been demanding similar reservations within the EWS quotas from state governments in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
All these communities have been demanding separate quotas in jobs and education, or that they should be included in the Other Backward Classes, or OBC, lists.
All these communities have also held sustained protests in the last few years, which forced some of the state governments to propose such quotas, which eventually failed to pass legal scrutiny.
Similar demands by Marathas in Maharashtra could queer the pitch for the BJP government in the state. In November, the Maharashtra assembly approved a 16 per cent separate quota for Marathas.
However, some experts believe the quota was unlikely to pass legal muster, and the Maharashtra government should create a separate quota for Marathas within the 10 per cent EWS quota proposed by the Modi government.
On Tuesday, Naidu told his party leaders during a teleconference, “We had requested the Centre to extend five per cent reservation to the Kapu community long ago but the BJP leaders did not agree. Now, out of the 10 per cent reservation provided by the Centre to the economically weaker sections, we will give five per cent to Kapus and the balance to the EWS.”
The Telugu Desam Party, ahead of the 2014 elections, promised to include the Kapu community in the backward classes list and extend five per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions.
On December 2, 2017, the state government had moved a Bill in the assembly seeking to provide five per cent reservation to Kapus, including the three sub-castes.
The Bill was subsequently forwarded to the Centre seeking a constitution amendment to include Kapus in the backward classes list under Schedule IX and give validity to the quota since the five per cent proposed is over and above the stipulated 50 per cent reservations for different sections of society.
The Centre did not accept the state's plea on the ground that it violated the Supreme Court judgement on reservations.
Earlier, the AP State Commission for Backward Classes had submitted a report recommending the reservation.
However, the Commission's then Chairman Justice K L Manjunatha was not a signatory to the report while two other members had submitted it to the state government.
The Naidu government had since been claiming that it had honoured its promise on reservation and blamed the Narendra Modi-led Centre for not approving the quota for Kapus.