Demand for EWS Reservation Relaxation Gains Momentum, Congress Finds Support

During the Zero Hour in Parliament, Digvijaya Singh highlighted the limitations of the current EWS reservation conditions, claiming that it leads to minimal representation from unreserved categories.

In a bid to gain support from unreserved farming communities, Congress MP Digvijaya Singh has raised the issue of relaxation in the Economic Weaker Section (EWS) reservation in the Parliament. Singh’s demand primarily focused on revising the EWS criteria, which currently bars those with five acres of land or an annual income of Rs 8 lakh and above.

The farming communities like Rajputs (in Jammu, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, MP, UP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh), Bhumihars and Tyagis (in UP and Bihar), Marathas (in MP and Maharashtra), Vellalars (in Tamil Nadu and Kerala), Jats (in West UP, Haryana, Rajasthan) and many others have been urging the government for a change in the criteria related to land and income limits in the EWS quota for long.

During the Zero Hour in Parliament, Digvijaya Singh highlighted the limitations of the current EWS reservation conditions, claiming that it leads to minimal representation from unreserved categories.

“The Modi government has done a good job of providing reservation under EWS to the unreserved communities. But the conditions in this led to a very thin selection of unreserved category EWS. For example, for one seat of UPSC, 1,950 scheduled caste candidates are turning up, 1,335 scheduled tribe candidates are turning up, and merely 569 are turning up from the EWS category,” Digvijaya Singh pointed out.

“All UPSC categories like engineering services and foreign services are witnessing the same trend due to the conditions of the EWS reservation. This has also led to a very thin selection of girls from this community,” the senior Congress leader added.

Furthermore, Singh emphasised the need for age relaxation in EWS reservations, similar to that provided for SC, ST, and OBC categories. He urged the government to adopt the practices implemented by states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Haryana, which have relaxed age limits and annual income criteria.

“While other communities get age relaxation reservations, SC and ST have five years and OBC have three years of age relaxation, the Economically Weaker Section gets none. Many states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana have relaxed the five-year age limit. Gujarat and Rajasthan have relaxed the annual income. I would like to request the government to provide the same across the country,” said Singh.

The current EWS clause restricts individuals with five acres of land, a residence exceeding 1000 square feet, or an annual income of Rs 8 lakhs.

Digvijaya Singh’s demand received quick approval from Congress party allies, echoing a similar sentiment that the existing criteria unfairly target farming and herding communities.

The Ashok Dalwai committee report on “doubling the farmers’ income” states that a farmer’s revenue from five acres of land is Rs 1.5 lakh per annum. Even this income varies across regions based on irrigation, soil quality and climate. Further, the income from agriculture is prone to natural calamities as well as man-made calamities. The equivalence drawn by the government between uncertain income from agriculture and certain income from a salaried individual of Rs 8 lakh looks unjust,” Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MLA Sudhakar Singh said welcoming Digvijaya Singh’s demand.

Dharmendra Rathore, former minister of Rajasthan, and the architect of the EWS Rajasthan model, criticised the exclusion of beneficiaries above 1,000 sq ft of residential area, deeming it discriminatory against farming communities.

“The criteria of excluding beneficiaries above 1,000 sq ft of residential area seems like a mockery of ground realities. For the farmer communities, where even cattle sheds are more than 2000 sq ft, the current EWS criteria are discriminatory for those who are at the bottom of the economic pyramid,” Rathore said. 

Various social organizations, including Bhumihar Tyagi Mahasabha, Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha, Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena, and Shri Kshatriya Yuvak Sangh, have long been advocating for EWS relaxation for youth in the farming community.

Rakesh Singh Raghuvanshi, president of Shri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena, Uttar Pradesh, lauded Digvijaya Singh for raising the issue and hoped for a swift relaxation in the criteria, particularly for Rajput youths in marginal farming families.

“We have been fighting for equal rights to our community youth for a long. We are glad that Digvijaya Singh raised this issue in the parliament. Rajputs are the single largest farming community in India and their presence is from Jammu to Chhattisgarh and from Gujarat to West Bengal. Many of the youth who are from marginal farmer families have been denied their rights due to the five-acre land and 1,000 sq ft land clause. Hope this gets addressed soon,” Raghuvanshi said.

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