Majority of T.N. parties oppose 10% EWS quota

Of the 21 parties at the all-party meeting, 16 come out against the move
A majority of political parties on Monday reiterated their opposition to the 10% quota in higher educational institutions for economically weaker sections (EWS) within the general category. Consequently, they wanted the Tamil Nadu government to reject the Medical Council of India’s offer to increase the sanctioned strength of students in medical colleges by 25% if the State came forward to implement the quota. Of the 21 parties that attended an all-party meeting called by the State government to decide the issue of quota in admissions to undergraduate medical courses, 16 were against it. They included DMK, CPI, VCK, PMK, MDMK and the Makkal Needhi Maiam. Five parties, including BJP, Congress, CPI(M) and Puthiya Tamizhagam, supported the move, according to Thol. Thirumavalavan and D. Ravikumar, MPs and representatives of the VCK. While earlier Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had said that all “recognised” parties would be consulted on the issue, the government extended an invitation to “registered” political parties as well. Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, who chaired the meeting lasting over three hours at the Secretariat, told reporters, “After consulting legal experts again, the government will take a favourable decision on the issue.” DMK president M.K. Stalin argued that the additional intake would “only favour upper castes” as most of the extra seats would go to them. As per MCI rules, colleges having over 200 seats would not be able to increase their intake. This would be applicable to four colleges, including Madras and Stanley medical colleges. The existing reservation system should not be sacrificed by giving in to “deceiving assurances”, he said. Giving an elaborate account of the history behind reservation in the State, Mr. Stalin said that unlike other States, Tamil Nadu did not have a high proportion of EWS in its population. So, the proposed quota would not be relevant here. Tamilisai Soundarajan, BJP’s State president, said the move would not pose “any problem” to the concept of social justice. A. Gopanna of the Congress, who read out the speech of TNCC president K.S. Alagiri, recalled that it was former Chief Minister Kamaraj who was responsible for the first Constitutional amendment to protect reservation.
Even when the Justice Party was in power in 1928 and Omandur Ramasamy Reddiar of the Congress was Chief Minister later, there existed a quota for “forward castes”. Without affecting the 69% quota directly or indirectly, the Congress now had no objection to providing reservation to the EWS, the Congress member said. K. Balakrishnan, State secretary of the CPI(M), wanted enumeration to be carried out to determine the number of people falling under the EWS category. The MDMK said 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 people. The party wanted the State government to seek exemption from the proposed system and urge the Centre to give up the new quota.

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