5% quota for Kapus may queer the pitch in AP

Ch RS Sarma/M Somasekhar Visakhapatnam/Hyderabad | Updated on January 22, 2019 Published on January 22, 2019

The Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to include 5 per cent quota for Kapus of the 10 per cent under the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) reservations, brought in by the Centre, has stirred a hornet’s nest in a already charged up political environment in the election-bound State.

By taking the decision at cabinet meeting on Monday, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has once again pitchforked the simmering and politically sensitive issue of Kapus onto the centre stage. He said the State government had urged the Centre to earmark the quota for Kapu community a long time ago, but the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not accept it.

Reservation for Kapus will be a major factor in the April-May State Assembly and general elections and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is going all out to woo them without antagonising the backward castes (BCs), its traditional vote bank. In the 2014 general elections, the TDP promised to provide reservations to the Kapu community without affecting the quota for others, especially BCs.

The Naidu government constituted the Manjunadha Commission to look into the issue and submit a report after the Kapus, under the leadership of Mudragada Padmanabham, took up agitation. Consequently, recommending 5 per cent reservation, the AP Assembly passed the Bill and sent it to the Centre for approval. It has not been approved.

Meanwhile, the Centre hurriedly pushed through the 10 per cent quota for EWS, getting it passed through both Houses of Parliament and obtaining the Presidential nod.

Political reactions

Though it remains to be seen whether the reservation will pass the legal scrutiny, it has already drawn some sharp political reactions.

Criticising the idea, Kanna Lakshminarayana, BJP State President, said: “The TDP promised quota for the Kapus in the last election and it has not fulfilled the promise. But in the process, it created a wedge a between the BCs and the Kapus.”

“By making use of the EWS quota of 10 per cent announced by the Centre after effecting the requisite Constitutional amendment and following the due process, the TDP is seeking to capitalise on it and capture the Kapu vote. The point is the EWS quota is not based on caste. Will it stand legal scrutiny?” he asked.

Mudragada Padmanabham said the decision is an electoral stunt and Naidu is known for such moves with no sincere intent.

Political significance

In at least four-five districts of the 13 in the State, especially the two Godavari districts, Kapu vote is critical in determining the electoral fortunes of all political parties.

As a multi-cornered contest is likely in the coming elections, with Jana Sena Party in the fray led by prominent cine star Pawan Kalyan (the brother of mega star Chiranjeevi and a Kapu by caste), the quota issue becomes extremely important.

Published on January 22, 2019
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