TN oppn parties oppose 10% quota, govt to seek legal opinion

Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam chairing all party meeting at the Secretariat in Chennai, Monday. DMK president M K Stalin and other party leaders participated.

Chennai: At an all party meeting held here Monday by the government, an overwhelming majority, including the DMK, opposed the 10 per cent reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections in medical admissions alleging it went against social justice.

Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who chaired the meet, told reporters after the deliberations that the government would consult legal experts on the matter and an “appropriate, good decision,” taken. Former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had got recognition for the 69 per cent quota in Tamilnadu by getting it inserted in the ninth schedule of the Constitution in 1994, he said.

The views expressed at the meet was to the effect that the government’s decision on implementing the new quota should be in sync with the social justice ideals of the late leader, Panneerselvam said. While a total of 21 parties took part in the meet, 16 of them including the DMK, its ideological fountainhead Dravidar Kazhagam and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi opposed the 10 per cent EWS quota. Five others including the BJP, Congress and CPI(M) were among those who supported it.

Earlier, Panneerselvam told the meet that the Medical Council of India has sought proposals from all States on increasing the number of seats to implement quota for the EWS. This was without impinging on the existing 69 per cent quota, he added.

“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, Tamilnadu 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 said.

DMK chief M K Stalin, participating in the meet, urged following only the 69 per cent quota 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, saying it went against the Constitution and Supreme Court judgments. 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 judgments 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 opposed to social justice. “Economic criteria is not a permanent, standard yardstick. Tamilnadu government must not do a historic blunder by accepting (EWS),” he said.