War of Words on State Reservation Policy


In terms of word count the noise from the Khasi-Jaintia side of the state has been prolific with several articles, arguments and counter arguments put forth on the contentious Roster System vis-a-vis the State Reservation Policy. The word ‘contentious’ here is used to denote the conundrum that has arisen out of the State’s own oversight (intentional or through ignorance) of not having a Roster System in the application of the State Reservation Policy. The leader of the Voice of Peoples’ Party (VPP), Ardent Basaiawmoit  went through a weeklong fast to put pressure on the Government to revisit the 50-year old Reservation Policy which reserves 40% seats for Khasi-Jaintia people, 40% for Garos, leaving 5% reserved for minor tribes and 15% remaining unreserved. There is no doubt at all that if the Roster System were to be applied with retrospective effect it would reveal that a good chunk of appointments have gone to the Khasi-Jaintia community because the Garos were not found to have scored the qualifying marks needed to occupy a certain post despite the relaxations. As a result the posts were ceded to candidates from the Khasi-Jaintia community. In fact a tabulation of the posts appropriated by the Khasi-Jaintia candidates from the 40% allocated to the Garo people in the last 50 years would reveal the quantum that passed over to their Khasi-Jaintia counterparts.

The Garo people have not been vocal about their views as to whether the Reservation Policy should be revisited and redesigned based on the population structure. Barring one article, no Garo intellectual has held forth on this issue. Some have voiced their concerns on social media but that is a completely different space. A post recently put up showed that 72 contractual appointments to different posts in the MeECL in June 2020 were from amongst the Khasi-Jaintia community. Of those posts 8 were for Khalasis, 2 for peons etc. Most of the appointments were for the Byrnihat Sub-Division. Unless the MeECL has a policy of appointing all Khasi-Jaintia candidates closer to their homes and there is a different list for the Sub-Divisions in Garo Hills it has to be concluded that no Garo qualified for any of the 72 vacancies.

The UDP’s Paul Lyngdoh who has remained a silent observer of the political games being played over the State Reservation Policy has now decided to break the silence and to attribute greater wisdom to the Garo people for remaining silent on this matter even while the Khasi and Jaintia people who have benefitted from the policy as it was applied in the last 50 years have been most vociferous about the need to revisit the Policy. An important reminder here is that it was someone from the Garo community that approached the Meghalaya High Court over the Reservation Policy being applied without a Roster System. The Court was appalled that a Reservation Policy could be applied without a Roster System thereby leaving room for nepotism and favouritism. It is not improbable that someone would not approach the Supreme Court should there be any attempt at tinkering with the Reservation Policy for the sake of political appeasement.