The West Bengal Cabinet today gave its nod to 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker section (EWS). The economically weaker section can apply for civil jobs once the notification is issued. There will also be reservation for EWS for admission to any educational institution.

State parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee later told the media : “This is a historic step we have taken under the leadership of chief minister Mamata Banerjee. No one ever dreamt of this in our state. A section of economically weaker section can apply for civil jobs, state government jobs and also in educational institutions.”

The minister also said: ” By announcing the decision the chief minister has taken an exemplary step.” He, however, clarified the 10 per cent reservation is made only for Economically Weak Section (EWS), while Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribe and OBC will not be included in this category. Mr Chatterjee, however, explained the criteria for the reservation for the economically weaker section would be determined after the notification is issued.

Both the Congress and the CPI-M welcomed the decision, but said it was rather late. Mr Abdul Mannan Leader of the Opposition and Mr Sujan Chakraborty CPI-M legislative party leader met the chief minister and expressed their reservations about the way the criteria is to be made.

“The big question is whether transparency will be maintained for determining the deserving candidates. This is the most complex area since chances are there that people not fulfilling the criteria are given the benefits,” Mr Mannan said.

The BJP said the decision only replicated the Central model. “The step is in the right direction. But given the track record of the Trinamul Congress, it’s doubtful whether the genuine candidates will get the benefits of the reservation. Just see how evidence of widespread corruption by Trinamul activists and functionaries is coming out in the open over cut money from government schemes,” said a BJP leader.