New Delhi, Jan 7 (PTI) The Congress on Monday said it will support a bill to grant 10 per cent quota to economically weaker sections from the general category, but questioned the timing of the government’s decision which it termed as an “election gimmick” to fool people.

Asserting that the move was a proof of the BJP’s “fear” of losing Lok Sabha polls, the opposition party also said that “without jobs”, creation of reservation in employment may just prove to be “one more jumla”.

In a major move ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Union Cabinet Monday cleared a 10 per cent job and education quota for “economically weaker” sections, meeting a key demand of upper castes, a staunch BJP support base which has shown signs of a drift from the party.

A top government functionary said a constitutional amendment bill will be tabled in Parliament Tuesday, the last day of the Winter Session.

Reacting to the development, Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party has always backed every step for reservation and extended support to the economically poor sections of society irrespective of caste, community or creed.

“Without interfering with the constitutional mandate of reservation given to Dalits, adivasis and backward classes in any manner, we have always supported that those who are genuinely poor and who are not covered under these sections may also be given benefit of opportunities and reservation, both in education and employment,” Surjewala said.

He said the Congress will continue to support every step that provides opportunities as well as employment to the economically poor sections of the society.

“The truth, however, is that after four years and eight months, the Modi government has suddenly woken up to the woes of economically poor facing imminent defeat in the 2019 elections and with 100 days to go for polls,” Surjewala said.

“That itself raises certain questions on the intent, the bonafide and the honesty of the Modi government altogether,” he said.

Asked whether the Congress will support a bill for the quota in Parliament, Surjewala said: “The son or daughter of a person who is economically poor should get their share in education and employment. We will support all steps for this.” Surjewala alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government have “attacked” India’s poor, farmers, traders, and small and medium businesses consistently, sometimes through the “demonetisation disaster” and at other times through a “flawed GST that has become Gabbar Singh Tax”.

“The demonetisation disaster itself cost the country 2 crore job losses. The truth also is that India is on the verge of perhaps the worst job crisis in the century. The unemployment is at a high of 7.3 per cent which is highest perhaps in the last 24 months,” Surjewala said.

According to one estimate by Centre For Monitoring Indian Economy, in the year 2018 alone, there were job losses of one crore 10 lakh, he said.

“Modi ji came to power promising 2 crore jobs a year and he should have created nine-and-a-half crore jobs in four years and eight months. He has not even been able to create nine lakh jobs,” the Congress leader alleged.

On the contrary, the Modi government has “admitted” on the floor of Parliament that 24 lakh government sector jobs are lying vacant, he said.

“Question is simple, please offer reservation in jobs, we welcome it, but when will you create jobs. By destroying jobs and creating reservation in jobs, whom are you trying to benefit,” Surjewala asked.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi accused the government of “posturing” and misleading the country as it did not have the requisite majority to get a constitutional amendment passed in Parliament.

“Why did you not think of this for four years and eight months? So obviously thought of as election gimmick three months before the model code. You know that you cannot exceed 50 per cent maxima so it is done only to posture that you tried,” he said in a tweet.

“The forward reservation is a gimmick to fool people. They are only misleading the nation,” Singhvi said.

“Modi and the BJP clearly think that Indian public eats grass. Crass politicisation. Proof positive of fear and certainty losing 2019,” he said on Twitter.

He said Tamil Nadu is an exception and an aberration, as the challenge is pending in the Supreme Court.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.