Even as the Opposition, led by the Congress, is incessantly attacking the Modi government over the Rafale issue, the Union Cabinet on Monday sprung a surprise by announcing 10 per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions for the economically backward upper castes.

According to the informed sources, the government was likely to introduce a Constitutional Amendment Bill in Parliament to thrust for 10 per cent extra reservation for economically deprived sections among general categories. The bill to amend Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution will be moved in the Parliament on Tuesday as the cabinet has approved a quota in direct recruitment and for admission in higher educational institutions.

According to sources, the decision is along the lines of the view of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which advocates that reservation should be provided along economic lines and not just caste.

The bill would require a constitutional amendment as it overruns the Supreme Court cap of 50 per cent. This is a very big move ahead of the general elections which are just a few months away.

The conditions that need to be fulfilled to avail the reservation under the EWS category are families with income (includes agricultural income as well as from profession) below Rs 8 lakh per annum, possessing agricultural land below five-acre, and residential house below 1,000 square feet.

For urban areas, those with residential plot below 100 yards in notified municipality or residential plot below 200 yards in the non-notified municipal area.

The existing 50 per cent reservation would be up to 60 per cent which is 10 per cent more than the cap placed by the Supreme Court.

Reacting to the announcement, former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said, “The proposal to give 10% reservation to economically weaker upper castes is nothing more than a jumla. It is bristling with legal complications and there is no time for getting it passed through both Houses of Parliament. The Government stands completely exposed.”

Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah said, “Reservation for economically backward upper castes; the bugle announcing the elections has well and truly sounded.”

Harish Rawat of Congress said, “Bohot der kar di meherbaan aate aate’, that also when elections are around the corner. No matter what they do, what ‘jumlas’ they give, nothing is going to save this government.”