The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Quota bill rolls, clash brews

New Delhi, Aug. 21: A fresh confrontation over quotas looked set to unfold with the cabinet tonight clearing a bill to introduce 27 per cent reservation for students in aided higher education institutions.

Students who were at the forefront of the anti-reservation campaign reacted with fury, saying they would meet tomorrow morning to chalk out a course of action.

The cabinet has decided to table the enabling bill on August 25, the last day of the current session of Parliament.

A TV channel reported that the creamy layer — the well-heeled among the OBCs — has been kept out of the quota as the CPM had demanded. But official sources refused to confirm or deny the report since Parliament is in session.

Sources said the bill would cover only aided central institutions, including deemed universities assisted and managed by the government, for the time being. Aided central institutes will include IIMs, IITs and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

But the bill is expected to give a breather to those institutes that do not have adequate facilities. The 27 per cent OBC quota — the institutes already have a 15 per cent quota for SCs and 7.5 per cent for STs — can be introduced in phases.

The cabinet is understood to have cleared the staggered implementation of the quota, though the human resource development ministry and the UPA’s southern partners, the DMK and the PMK, wanted the quota to kick in at one go. A blanket implementation would have saddled the government with a bill of Rs 16,563.35 crore.

The human resource development ministry has drawn up a second bill for unaided deemed universities, which is being circulated among other ministries for comments.

Initially, the ministry had clubbed both aided and unaided institutions in the same bill. Pressure from the Prime Minister and other cabinet members forced the ministry to delink the two categories.

Medical students said tonight they are likely to march to Sonia Gandhi’s residence to submit a memorandum against quotas. Groups of students from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, IIT and medical colleges are expected to converge on Jantar Mantar tomorrow.

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