Making data from Socio-Economic caste census public for the first time, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that Scheduled Castes and scheduled tribes made up 24.1 per cent of Karnataka's total population. Speaking at the Jana Aashirvada rally in Raichur alongside AICC President Rahul Gandhi, Siddaramaiah said that his government was keen on increasing job reservation to backward classes to 70 per cent from the existing 50 per cent.
Siddaramaiah was addressing a tribal rally organised as part of Rahul Gandhi's four-day tour in Hyderabad-Karnataka region. While the caste census data is yet to be made public, Siddamaiah revealed select numbers for the first time in an attempt to justify his government' move to increase reservation.
"The total SC population is 17.5 per cent while ST population is 6.95 per cent totalling 24.1 per cent. You are now only getting 18 per cent reservation," Siddaramaiah said. He added that his government attempting to increase reservation in jobs for STs by 7 per cent. While a host of Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge addressed the rally, Siddaramaiah's address targetting the specific audience- largely from tribal communities. Ahead of Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018, the Congress is attempting to consolidate its traditional vote banks of AHINDA (Acronym for Backward classes, minorities and Dalits).
An increase of 7 per cent in jobs for ST communities from the current 3 per cent will take the overall reservation percentage to 70 in Karnataka. While the BJP maintains that it is reservation beyond 50 per cent is unconstitutional, Siddaramiaah argued that the increase will be brought about in proportion to the population of said communities.
In a change of order, Raichur leg of Jana Ashirvada yatra saw Rahul Gandhi address the gathering first followed by Mallikarjun Kharge with Siddaramaiah concluding the same. Unlike BJP rallies where Prime Minister Narendra Modi inevitably becomes the showstopper, Raichur rally saw Siddaramaiah signing off for the Congress on a high instead of Rahul Gandhi.