VIJAYAWADA: Amid the raging controversy over the Polavaram project, the State Cabinet on Friday sprang a surprise by favouring inclusion of the numerically strong Kapu community among Backward Classes (BCs) with 5 per cent reservation. Based on the report submitted by Justice Manjunath Commission, the Cabinet more or less decided to provide quota for Kapus in education and employment.
The Commission, which went by the data collected through the Smart Pulse Survey and other sources, has recommended up to 4-5 per cent quota to Kapus, Balijas, Telagas and Ontari castes.
The Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, discussed the report for over four hours. Emerging from the meeting, HRD Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao, himself a Kapu, told reporters, “This is a festival day for Kapus. A new category F will be included in the BC list. We will ensure that the interests of existing BCs are not adversely affected.” He also said the Cabinet will again discuss the issue Saturday morning and a resolution will be moved in both the Assembly and the Council. Thereafter, it will be forwarded to the Governor for his approval and subsequently to the Centre for inclusion in the IXth Schedule of the Constitution.
A senior official told TNIE that the Supreme Court cap of 50 per cent on reservations would not be a hurdle and cited the example of Tamil Nadu, where reservations are around 69 per cent. Kapus account for 27 per cent of the State population and had been in and out of the BC list over the last seven decades. Kapus had BC tag up to 1956 when the then government struck them off the list. They were again included in the BC list in 1961 but five years later, lost it again. In the 1990s, quota for Kapus was given but it was struck down by the high court. Since then, three commissions, including the Manjunath Commission, were constituted to look into their demand for inclusion among BCs.
Despite the government’s clarification that existing BCs would not be impacted in any way, BC Welfare Association national president R Krishnaiah, a Telangana leader from Telugu Desam, called on the BCs to oppose and agitate against the decision. Stating that extending reservations to Kapus will hurt the interests of BCs, he said all MLAs from the BCs should oppose the resolution in the Assembly.
Meanwhile, the move evoked guarded and mixed reactions from Kapu leaders. When contacted, a senior BJP leader of the Kapu community termed the decision an eyewash. “The Chief Minister is just washing his hands of the matter knowing fully well that it will not stand judicial scrutiny.” He cited the Apex Court’s rejection of quota for Jats in Rajasthan.
State govt defies Centre, to also construct hydro project on Polavaram
The State Cabinet also decided to construct a hydro power project at Polavaram. It is also learnt that the Cabinet decided to go ahead with the tender process for the spillway and channel works despite the Centre’s directive to put it on hold. The hydro project will not be a part of the Polavaram project, which is fully funded by the Centre. As such, it does not require Centre’s permission.
It is very unfortunate that the government has accepted the Manjunath Commission recommendations. We have been opposing these proposals right from the beginning and requested the government not to include Kapus in BC quota. Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and all his BC Cabinet ministers and legislators have betrayed the community. It is a big shock for us. We are going to launch an agitation. We are going to stage a protest in Kakinada. Our BC leaders and cadre will take out protest rallies across the state. We will chalk out our action plan shortly Peddimsetty VenkateswaraRao, President, AP BC Hakkula Sadhana Samithi