Karnataka CM’s poll gamble: Kurubas in ST list?

Deccan Chronicle || Bhaskar Hegde

Bengaluru: Will Chief Minister Siddaramaiah play the Kuruba card and make sure he remains the community’s icon for decades to come by getting them transferred from the Other Backward Community (OBC) to Scheduled Tribe (ST) slot? Is he planning to do to Karnataka what former PM  V.P. Singh did to national politics by exploiting the Mandal commission report and laying the ground for a caste-based polity?

The seeds for this change have already been sown with the Kurubas who recently met at Dharwad, passing a resolution to give them the ST tag.
Mr Siddarmaiah had announced in the winter session at Belagavi that he would bring in a legislation to raise the ceiling on reservation from the present 50 per cent to 70 per cent.

 Concurrently, he intends to bring in internal reservation for communities within the SC, ST and OBC blocs to give representation to communities which have not got representation in government jobs or in the political space yet.
Sources in the Congress said that his plan to raise the reservation ceiling from 50 per cent to 70 per cent is not altruistic as it seems.

“Once he raises the ceiling, he wants to push some of the communities including Kurubas, presently in the OBC bloc, to either the SC or ST bloc.” Congress MLC, H.M. Revanna a Kuruba leader and a trusted lieutenant of the Chief Minister, sees nothing wrong in this.”

Madiwalavas (washermen) for instance are in the ST bloc in 23 states but here in Karnataka, they are categorised as OBC. So, the social hierarchy is not static. Kurubas in the hinterland have the traits of nomadic communities which have been studied and ascertained by Kulashastra Study Centre. So what’s wrong in giving them the Scheduled Tribes tag? Moreover, we are not  eating into the share of communities already in the ST bloc. Once the reservation ceiling is raised, everyone  will benefit.”

Concurrently, Mr Siddaramaiah will implement the A.J. Sadashiva Commission report on internal reservation. While speaking at the Madiga (one of the untouchable SC communities) convention earlier this month, he had promised to implement the report and had even asked social welfare minister, H. Anjaneya to bring up the subject at the next cabinet meeting. Mr Siddaramaiah is pushing for internal reservation in spite of stiff opposition from many Congress leaders including party leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge.

Why this risky move?
According to sources in the Congress, Mr Siddaramaiah knows there is only a  remote possibility of him coming back to power in the 2018 election.

“To make sure he spoils the prospects of the Bharatiya Janata Party sweeping back to power, he wants to implement internal reservation and raise the quota ceiling to woo several communities. This could lead to confusion in the minds of the electorate and even throw up a hung assembly. He could then, maybe strike a pact with his former party, the Janata Dal (Secular) where he still has many supporters and return to power,” an insider  said.

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