Will the decision to re­voke pref­er­en­tial pro­mo­tions in state ser­vices prove to be Akhilesh’s mas­ter­stroke, asks VIREN­DRA NATH BHATT

Tehelka - - UTTAR PRADESH -

UT­TAR PRADESH Chief Min­is­ter Akhilesh Ya­dav is chart­ing a new path to broaden his agenda of in­clu­sive pol­i­tics. On 8 May, the Cab­i­net de­cided to re­voke Mayawati’s pref­er­en­tial pro­mo­tion pol­icy for the Sched­uled Castes and Tribes ( SC/STS) in state ser­vices. The younger Ya­dav made his in­ten­tions clear when he an­nounced that mas­sive tracts of land ded­i­cated as parks to Dalit icons would be put to public use.

Aimed at mak­ing a dent in the Sar­va­jan-bahu­jan so­cial coali­tion that brought the Bahu­jan Samaj Party ( BSP) to power in 2007, this move has not only won Akhilesh the hearts of the up­per castes, but also the sup­port of the mi­nor­ity em­ploy­ees, who were hit by Mayawati’s pro­mo­tion pol­icy that had ef­fec­tively blocked pro­mo­tions for of­fi­cers of all other so­cial groups.

The con­tro­versy over pref­er­en­tial pro­mo­tion for the SC/STS in Ut­tar Pradesh is over a decade old. In 2002, the BSPBJP com­bine headed by Mayawati had amended the “UP Gov­ern­ment Em­ployee’s Se­nior­ity Rules’’ and had brought in a pol­icy of giv­ing pref­er­en­tial pro­mo­tion to SC/ST em­ploy­ees in state ser­vices. The Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav-led Sa­ma­jwadi Party gov­ern­ment re­voked the or­der two years later in 2005.

Mayawati rein­tro­duced the pol­icy in 2007 af­ter com­ing to power. A year later, state gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees chal­lenged the pol­icy in the Lucknow Bench of the Al­la­habad High Court. The court ac­cepted their pe­ti­tion and quashed the pol­icy in Jan­uary 2011, terming it “un­con­sti­tu­tional” and “ul­tra vires”. The then BSP- led gov­ern­ment chal­lenged the high court or­der in the Supreme Court. In its judg­ment on 27 April 2012, the apex court up­held the Al­la­habad High Court or­der.

Within a week of the judg­ment, the UP Cab­i­net met on 5 May and ap­proved the draft or­di­nance “UP Sched­uled Caste Sched­uled Tribe Em­ploy­ees (se­nior­ity rules) 2012”. On 8 May, the gov­ern­ment is­sued the fol­low-up or­ders, paving the way for the pro­mo­tion of state em­ploy­ees be­long­ing to the OBCS, mi­nori­ties and up­per castes, who were de­nied pro­mo­tion dur­ing the BSP regime.

Dalit groups in the state are now gear­ing up for a bat­tle to pro­tect a “le­git­i­mate right given to them by the Con­sti­tu­tion”. These groups also blame Mayawati for the cur­rent mess. “The high court judg­ment of Jan­uary 2011 said the state could con­tinue with the pol­icy of reser­va­tion in pro­mo­tions af­ter ful­fill­ing the norms laid down by the SC in the Na­garaj case. Mayawati never cared for the court’s di­rec­tions and in­stead filed an ap­peal in the SC,” says Udit Raj, leader of the Dalit po­lit­i­cal group, the In­dian Jus­tice Party.

“Mayawati should have im­ple­mented the pol­icy only af­ter com­ply­ing with the SC or­der in the Na­garaj case, which im­posed three con­di­tions — whether there was in­ad­e­quate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of SC/ST; as­cer­tain ac­tual back­ward­ness of the SC/ST em­ploy­ees; and the ef­fect on ef­fi­ciency of the OBCS and gen­eral cat­e­gory em­ploy­ees in case a ju­nior em­ployee is pro­moted,” says SR Dara­puri, an of­fice-bearer of the UP Ambed­kar Maha Sabha and a re­tired IPS of­fi­cer. “Noth­ing was done.”

Now a Ra­jya Sabha mem­ber, Mayawati has raised this is­sue in the Up­per House, and has de­manded an amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion to neu­tralise the SC judg­ment. She has asked that the amended law be cov­ered un­der Sched­ule 9 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, to pro­tect it from ju­di­cial scru­tiny in fu­ture or make it non jus­ti­cia­ble.

Af­ter tak­ing over as Chief Min­is­ter, Akhilesh had claimed that sev­eral hun­dred acres of land in Lucknow, where parks and me­mo­ri­als to Dalit icons have been built, would be put to bet­ter use by con­struct­ing public util­i­ties and gov­ern­ment fa­cili­tis .

A day ear­lier, on 14 March, Mayawati had threat­ened a na­tion-wide stir if the Sa­ma­jwadi Party did not keep off the parks and statues of Dalit lead­ers.


Brownie points Akhilesh’s decision has en­deared him to both the gen­eral and mi­nor­ity cat­e­gories

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