To be done every three years, the Union cabinet last hiked the income bar for OBCs from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh on August 23, 2017, and a notification was issued later.
While a controversy built up early this year over the BJP government’s proposal to raise the income bar to Rs 12 lakh, an uncertainty hangs over its fate now.
The delay has begun to agitate the OBC leaders. Senior DMK leader T R Baalu has shot off a letter to social justice minister Thaawarchand Gehlot pointing out that the 3-year period for revision is up and the government should act fast. More may follow suit in petitioning the government, OBC leaders said.
The reason for the delay is that the social justice and empowerment ministry earlier this year decided to revise the formula for computing the income threshold beyond which an OBC person is considered “creamy layer” and is ineligible for 27% Mandal quota.
While the 1993 OM of DoPT lays down that income comprises “income from other sources” excluding “salary” and “agriculture income”, the ministry has proposed to add “salary” to the equation.
The ministry in January drafted a two-point cabinet note which proposed to raise the creamy layer bar to Rs 12 lakh and include “salary” in the calculation of gross income.
But it triggered concerns among the backwards that inclusion of “salary” will make it easier for an OBC to be considered “creamy layer”. Differences also broke out in BJP, with chairman of the parliament’s “committee on OBC welfare” Ganesh Singh writing to all BJP MPs belonging to backward castes, as reported by TOI.
With little movement on the issue, it appears that the BJP brass has developed cold feet for the moment, possibly on account of elections in Bihar which is an OBC fort.
Now, an early solution will entail that the Centre either passes its original proposal or uncouples the two points to assent the one on hiking the income ceiling. Else, delay in the raising of income ceiling too can become a public controversy, backward leaders warn.