Political parties in Tamil Nadu on Monday presented mixed reactions on the 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) of society, as proposed by the Central government, in an all-party meeting on the issue held here.
While a majority of the parties that attended the meeting like the DMK, the MDMK and others opposed the move, some parties voiced their support.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam stressed that after discussing with the legal experts, the government will take a decision that will not impact the existing 69 per cent reservation in the state.
The all party meeting was convened to discuss extension of 10 per cent reservation to EWS (those whose annual income is less that Rs 8 lakh or own farm land less than five acres) in medical colleges and also on the EWS concept.
Major opposition parties like the DMK, Congress, the DMDK, the PMK, the MNM, the NTK and others participated in the meeting.
In his introductory remarks, Panneerselvam said the Medical Council of India (MCI) had sought the views of implementing EWS in the admissions this academic year itself.
"There are 24 medical colleges in Tamil Nadu with 3,500 seats out which 15 per cent, that is 525 seats are allotted to central quota. In the remaining 85 per cent seats, that is, 2,975 seats, 69 per cent are reserved as per the reservation policy of the state government," he said.
According to Panneerselvam, if the state government agrees to reserve 10 per cent seats for EWS, as per MCI guidelines, then the state can get an additional 1,000 medical college seats.
"The state will get an additional 850 seats after allocating 150 seats to the central quota. So out of the total 3,825 seats for Tamil Nadu (2,975+850 seats) a total of 586 additional medical seats will be available for the reserved quota after the allocation of 838 seats under EWS," he said.
DMK President M.K. Stalin, however, said on the pretext of getting 25 per cent additional medical seats, the state government should not implement reservation for EWS which will be a setback for the Dravidian movement.
He said reservation is the fundamental in delivering social justice and Tamil Nadu has set an example for others.
Stalin said the first amendment to the Constitution was made to state that reservation can be made only for socially and educationally backward classes.
Citing a media report, he said that in 71 Central government departments, only 14.94 per cent employees belong to the backward class.
According to Stalin, reservation based on economic criteria will dilute the reservation policy in the state.