At an all party meeting convened by the ruling ADMK government on Monday (8 July), an overwhelming majority of the state political parties in Tamil Nadu reiterated their strident opposition to the 10 per cent quota in higher educational institutions for economically weaker sections (EWS) within the general category.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who chaired the meeting, told reporters after the deliberations that the government would consult legal experts on the matter and an “appropriate, good decision”, will be taken.
The opposition parties also urged the state government to summarily reject the offer of the Medical Council of India (MCI) to increase the sanctioned strength of students in medical colleges by 25 per cent if the state came forward to implement the quota.
While a total of 21 parties took part in the meet, 16 of them including the DMK, its ideological fountainhead Dravidar Kazhagam, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, PMK, MDMK and Kamalhassan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam opposed the 10 per cent EWS quota.
Five others including the BJP, Congress, Puthiya Tamizhagam led by Dr Krishnaswamy, and CPI(M) supported it.
Panneerselvam said that the MCI had sought proposals from the states on a roadmap to implementation of the new quota arrangement in admission to undergraduate courses in medicine without impinging on the existing 69 per cent quota.
“If the State government applied (to MCI) as per the MCI guidelines, there is an opportunity for 1,000 additional MBBS seats and barring the 150 all India quota seats, Tamil Nadu government will get 850 additional seats,” he said.
As a result, of the 3,825 total medical seats (taking into account the incremental MBBS seats and barring the all India quota assuming that EWS quota is implemented), after allotting 383 seats for the EWS, the communities that fall under the present 69 per cent quota regime would stand to get an additional 586 seats, the deputy Chief Minister added.
DMK chief M K Stalin, participating in the meet, urged that only the 69 per cent quota system should be followed and wanted the government to convey that it would not implement the 10 per cent quota in medical admissions. “I urge that this new quota should be halted in its tracks in view of the pending case against it in the Supreme Court,” he said.
Stalin expressed surprise over the Centre’s quota for the economically backward sections, by calling it in contravention to the Constitution and Supreme Court judgements.
Decades ago, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Law Minister Ambedkar were against bringing in the economic criterion into the Constitution provisions, he said.
“Several Supreme Court judgements have proven that reservation is not a tool to eradicate poverty,” the DMK leader said. The economic quota went against the tenets of social justice, he added.
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi chief Thol Thirumavalavan said they opposed the EWS quota since it was against social justice. “Economic criteria is not a permanent, standard yardstick. Tamil Nadu government must not do a historic blunder by accepting (EWS),” he said.
Tamilisai Soundarajan, BJP’s State president, said the move would not pose “any problem” to the concept of social justice.
K. Balakrishnan, State secretary of the CPI(M), wanted an enumeration to be carried out to determine the number of people falling under the EWS category.
The MDMK claimed that while it was all for other measures to uplift the EWS, it was strongly opposed to the move, which would affect the existing quota system and interests of the majority of the people.