Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that there was no possibility of enhancing the percentage of reservations beyond 50 per cent, the upper ceiling fixed by the Supreme Court, will be a major embarrassment to both Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao.
It will be a big setback to both the chief ministers, who were hoping to cash in on their decisions on the reservations issue.
Naidu got the bill passed in AP assembly providing five per cent quota to Kapus in the OBC list and is hopeful that all the Kapus will turn in favour of the TDP in the next assembly elections.
Similarly, KCR sought to appease the Muslims by getting the bill passed in the assembly increasing the Muslim reservations from four to 12 per cent and that of SCs by another three per cent. Both of them will have to cut a sorry figure before the people now.
However, KCR is an advantageous position compared to Naidu in this regard.
First of all, he can still appease the Muslims by throwing the blame on the BJP which is considered to be against Muslim reservations.
Secondly, KCR threatened to stage a dharna in New Delhi demanding that the Muslim quota bill be included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, as was done in the case of BC reservations in Tamil Nadu.
He can question the BJP government as to why Telangana cannot enhance the Muslim quota when the Tamil Nadu government can do it for BCs. He has even sought to take the help of the DMK to fight against the Centre.
Chandrababu Naidu does not have this luxury.
First of all, he is part of the NDA government at the Centre and so, he cannot directly fight with the BJP like KCR can do.
There is nothing that he can do to bring pressure on the Centre like staging a dharna in New Delhi like KCR.
Secondly, he cannot provoke Kapus against the Modi government like KCR can do with the Muslims. And he will gain nothing if he does it.
So, if the Centre rejects the Kapu quota bill, Naidu has no option but to remain silent. And that will cause immense damage to him politically as Kapus will revolt strongly.
The only way he can salvage his prestige is to quit the NDA and launch an open fight against the Centre on Kapu issues.
But, it is doubtful whether Naidu can afford to do it at this stage!