A meeting of Tamil Nadu legislature parties, chaired by Chief Minister M K Stalin, resolved to reject the 103rd Constitutional Amendment that provides for 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS). The parties said the amendment would create caste discrimination among the poor, and called on the state government to file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict that upheld it. The AIADMK, the state’s main opposition party, and the BJP boycotted the meeting.
After the meeting, state Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy said the state government would not implement the 10 per cent reservation. “As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, we will keep following the 69 per cent quota (the existing system of reservation in the state), we will not implement the EWS reservation. The Supreme Court did not say that EWS must be used by all states. We think that states should be able to make their own rules about reservations,” he said.
Speaking at the meeting, Stalin said the idea of an EWS quota had already been rejected in the 1950s by Parliament, as well as then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Law Minister B R Ambedkar.
“Do not think that we are coming in the way of the poor among the forward castes. We will not stop any scheme that helps the poor. But we will not allow the true values of social justice to be distorted either,” the Tamil Nadu CM said.
A system of 10 per cent reservation for the poor among forward castes “is contrary to the philosophy of social justice as enshrined in Indian Constitution”, a resolution passed at the meeting said. “It is contradictory to the various judgments of the Supreme Court of India, and it also divides and discriminates against the poor in the name of caste,” it said.
The resolution urged the state government to register its views strongly and to assert the values of social justice and equality through a review petition before the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.
“While we support poverty alleviation through economic development programmes to help the poor and vulnerable, we will not allow the true values of social justice to be distorted. This concerted action from Tamil Nadu to safeguard the philosophy of social justice will help us coordinate our efforts for the next step forward,” the resolution said.
The meeting was attended by the ruling DMK, its allies including the Congress, the CPI(M), the CPI, the MDMK, and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, as well as NDA ally PMK.