Revolt against Modi government by BJP MPs : Discontent on the new definition of ‘Creamy layer’

The government’s moves to change the definition of the ‘Creamy layer’ for OBCs has elicited strong opposition from it’s own MPs. A sudden disagreement by MP from Madhya Pradesh, Ganesh Singh shook the centralised structure and intervened the two man’s Bhartiya Janata Party. After elicitating the strong reaction from Varanasi BJP councilors on Priests registration fees issue to receiving strong opposition from it’s own MPs. What is modi government up to?

On July 5, Ganesh Singh BJP’s MP provoked his fellow member of paraliament from other backward classes by asking them to oppose modi government’s move to change the definition of ‘Creamy layer’ and also went on to take an active measure by asking them to write on Twitter to Modi and Shah.

The revolt by BJP MPs broke out when Modi government planned to change the definition of ‘Creamy layer’ for OBCs. Drawing a parallel to the layer of cream that forms on milk, the term refers to the subsection of a backward class who have transcended the caste disability and are well off in their community and now would not be considered as backwards in Social and Educational Terms.

This Cladestine concept still plays an important role indeed a very major role as we forsee from Ganesh Singh’s protest in Indian politics. A large number of votes for BJP depends on this section of the society and therefore, it’s impact on the electoral process will always be significant.

Definition of ‘Creamy layer’

The term was introduced by the Sattanathan Commission in 1971, which directed that the “creamy layer” should be excluded from the reservations (quotas) of civil posts.It was also identified later by Justice Ram Nandan Committee in 1993.

The creamy layer (income) criteria were defined as gross annual income of parents from all sources more than 100,000 rupees (₹ or INR defined by Sattanathan committee in 1971) In 1993 when “creamy layer” ceiling was introduced, it was ₹ 1 lakh.
The NCBC also recommended the sub-division of OBCs into “backward”, “more backward”, and “extremely backward” blocs and divide 27% quota amongst them in proportion to their population, to ensure that stronger OBCs don’t corner the quota benefits by VP government.

Till 1990 for this quota to see the light of day, when the VP Singh government partially implemented the Mandal commission’s recommendations and brought in quotas for OBCs in Central government jobs.

Inclusion of salaries :New Definition 

It took people on anger when a layer has been introduced for the OBC affirmative section who are well off economically and Educationally. People have filed cases against such division as OBC- oriented programs were no longer applicable to ‘Creamy Layer’.

The 1993 Union government order included the exclusion of salaries. The 1993 order made sure to exclude “income from salaries” from the definition of income.
However, since the Modi government soon filed a challenge in the Supreme Court, little changed on the ground.

A 2019 report by the Ganesh Singh-headed Lok Sabha Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Castes found that “the recruitment for the Central Government posts is being carried out year after year by following the same interpretation of Income/Wealth Test as has been applied by the DoPT [Department of Personnel and Training] in the sub-judice cases relating to determining the creamy layer status of the OBC candidates”.

After massive Loksabha Electoral win by BJP government, the ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment appointed an expert committee recommended the government to include salary keeping Income ceiling be doubled from Rs 8 lakh to 16 lakh.

As per the Times of India, in March, the Union social justice ministry accepted the proposal to include salary in creamy layer calculations – but the proposal is still to be passed by the cabinet.

And as Modi Government even after facing a massive opposition from it’s own OBC leaders continues to move forward into this matter.

The Challenge

The centralised Modi-Shah administration structure is being challenged and mocked first time by it’s own party leaders as they are trying to cut through to make their space for opinions when it comes to policy makings.

Singh’s opposition is mirrored by OBC pressure groups. “Including salary while calculating creamy layer will practically end OBC reservations,” argued G Karunanidhy, General Secretary of the All India Federation of Other Backward Classes Employees’ Welfare Association.

“There is not a single OBC amongst 89 secretaries in the Union government,” explains Karunanidhy. “And not a single OBC IIT professor.”

He explained further that this will bring a drastic change in OBC representation in the paraliament. And the quota will remain unfilled which will lead to completely eradication of OBC representatives numbers.

BJP’s Politics

Political Scientist from JNU says that it’s a BJP politics to separate OBC affirmatives from OBC marginalised so as to attract a large number of OBC voters this caste breakup is important.

In the case of Uttar Pradesh, for example, making creamy layer criteria more stringent will mostly harm Yadavs, who are the most affluent backward caste and occupy the OBC quota far in excess of their numbers. This will will continue the BJP’s politics of mobilising marginalised OBCs against a dominant OBC caste.

The Argument 

For government employees, their children are considered to be in the creamy layer if either of the parents are directly recruited in Group-A or if both are in Group-B. They will also be considered if their parents enter Group-A through promotion before the age of 40.

National Backward Classes Welfare Association president and former legislator R. Krishnaiah has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to implement the recommendations of the B.P. Sharma Committee on the revision of income criteria for determination of creamy layer among the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) since it would render huge injustice to large sections.

He also wanted the Prime Minister to abolish the creamy layer system in OBC reservations in employment and education in States and Central government by amending the Constitution.

It remains to be seen how the government responds to the “cry of the OBCs”.