The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Madhya Pradesh government seeking its response over a petition challenging the validity of ‘MP Public Service (Reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs) Amendment Ordinance, 2019.’ The ordinance hikes the OBC quota in the state from 14% to 27%. The petition challenged the validity of the ordinance on the ground that the hike takes the total quantum of reservation in the state of Madhya Pradesh to 63% as against an upper ceiling of 50% which was prescribed by the Supreme Court in the landmark Indira Sawhney ruling in the year 1992.
As such, it seems that the Congress move to woo the OBC voters prior to the Lok Sabha elections has hit a roadblock with this notice from the apex court. The decision by Kamal Nath government to suddenly announce a hike in the quantum of reservation a month before the country went to Lok Sabha polls was seen as a move to woo the OBC voters in the state. The OBCs are seen as a dominant vote bank comprising nearly 50 percent voter base in Madhya Pradesh. It was not very difficult to understand why the Kamal Nath government made this move a month before the Lok Sabha elections. The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister also tried attacking the past regime for not hiking the quantum of OBC reservation and said, “For years, OBCs have been receiving 14 per cent reservation in MP and I am not sure why the former chief minister (Shivraj Chouhan) could not hike this in all those years when he governed.”
The ordinance enhancing the quantum of reservation to the OBCs is likely to face a tough legal battle. Last month, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh had suffered a strong setback after the Madhya Pradesh High Court had stayed the hike in OBC quota from 14% to 27%. And now the Supreme Court has also issued notice on a petition challenging the validity of the same ordinance. It is clear that the objective that the Congress was trying to achieve through this ordinance has remained unfulfilled even as the ordinance now faces a tough legal challenge.
This development absolutely exposes the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh for blatantly indulging in vote bank politics. It seems that in order to engineer a voter base for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress simply overlooked the legal intricacies as far as any legislative instrument relating to the reservation is concerned.
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