Battle over BC quota may delay Panchayat Raj elections

Hyderabad: The leaders of Backward Classes went to court when Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao brought in a legislation giving 34% reservation for the BC communities in Panchayat Raj elections. They demanded that the quota for BCs should be 52%, in proportionate to their population indicated in the Intensive Household Survey done in August 2014. They also demanded that the reservation should be categorised into BC-A, B, C, D and E categories. The High Court gave a favourable order in June 2018 and directed the State Government to conduct fresh enumeration of caste-wise BC population. With KCR dissolving the Assembly on September 6, the High Court orders could not be implemented. Having retained the power with huge majority, KCR came up with another amendment in the Panchayat Raj Act decreasing the BC reservation to just 23%. Now all BC leaders are fighting to get originally promised 34% quota restored.

Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) Chief Spokesperson Dr. Sravan Dasoju has accused the TRS Government of doing injustice with Backward Classes. He alleged that KCR was suppressing the BCs by confining their political representation in local bodies to mere 23% which is not even half their population in Telangana State. Instead of taking actual percentage of BC population into consideration to reserve the seats, the State Government has been banking on various estimations to deny BCs their due share in power in Panchayat Raj elections.

Sravan pointed out several contradictions in the figures pertaining to actual population of BCs in Telangana. Estimating the BC population to be 34% in 1999, same figure was used in implementation of reservation policy. However, only 34% seats have been reserved for BCs in the new Panchayat Raj Act although the Intensive Household Survey conducted by the State Government in August 2014 has estimated the BC population to be 52%. Strangely, he said the same government has estimated the BC population as 37% while presenting the Bill to enhance quota from 4% to 12% for Muslims under BC-E. “Which number should we trust? Is it 34%, 52% or 37%?” he asked.

The Congress leader said BCs are not a single community/group. They are referred to a category comprising of 113 communities divided into A, B, C, D and E groups. Therefore, he said reservation of seats without categorisation would cause huge injustice to various small communities which never got any representation in any of the elected bodies in the State. The existing 29% reservation is sub-divided among five groups of A – 7% (Aboriginal Tribes, Vimukthijatis, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes, Orphans etc.,); B – 10% (Vocation Groups); C – 1% (SC converts into Christianity); D – 7% (Other Backward Classes) and E – 4% (Socially and educationally backward classes among Muslims). Therefore, in a broader perspective, the categorisation of reserved seats would benefit all communities in a broader manner and increase their representation in Panchayat Raj institutions. With 34% reservation, the quota for BC-A will increase to 8.2%; BC-B to 11.7%; BC-C to 1.2%; BC-D to 8.2% and BC-E to 4.8%. He said KCR talks of enhancing Muslims quota to 12%. However, by not agreeing for categorisation, he is preventing the increase in BC-E quota from 4% to even 4.8%.

Sravan pointed out that of 113 communities in all five categories, there were several communities which never got any representation in any elected posts. Citing figures of last elections, he said of 441 ZPTC, 196 were reserved for BCs. However, as many as 88 BC communities had no representation. Similarly, of 434 MPPs, 82 communities had no representation in 206 BC reserved seats. Of 6,490 MPTCs, 3267 were reserved for BCs and no one from 49 communities got elected to the post. Likewise, of 4,147 elected from BC reserved seats out of 8,692 Sarpanches, there was no representation from 57 communities. There is not a single councillor from 66 communities (898/1453) and 90 communities among Corporators (228/408). Of 55 Municipal Chairmen, 36 were reserved for BCs. Therefore, 99 BC communities had no representative on these posts. While the State Government has almost finalised arrangements to hold Panchayat Raj elections, the BC leaders have waged a legal battle to stop the polls till the quota issue is resolved. Therefore, it is feared that the Panchayat Raj elections might get delayed over BC quota.

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