The Kapu community in Andhra Pradesh has long been demanding reservations in employment and education. The community has also had a sustained demand to be included in the BC list. The larger Kapu community, comprising Munnurukapus, Balijas, Telagas, Tenugus, Ontari and Mutrasis, constitute roughly 12% of the total state population. Many promises and attempts have been made over the last few years to address this demand. One can see a parallel relationship in the demands for reservations by Jats and Marathas in other states of the country.
The demand culminated into a violent protest in June 2016, when 4 coaches of the Ratnachal Express were set on fire near Tuni by protesters led by Kapunadu leader and former minister Mudragada Padmanabham. Following this, the then TDP Government led by N. Chandrababu Naidu constituted the Manjunatha Commission to look into their demands. Although the commission unofficially recommended reservations to the Kapu community, the final report was not signed by the chairperson of the 3-member panel and hence, it was rendered not credible.
Subsequently, after significant pressure from the Kapu community, the TDP Government in December 2017 successfully passed a Bill to provide 5% reservation under the BC list to Kapus and its three sub-castes, Telaga, Ontari and Balija. Subsequently, the Bill was sent to the Centre to be included in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution of India as the proposed quota is over and above the stipulated 50% reservations for all categories.
The Centre on its part rejected the Bill. In early 2019, after the Centre proposed a 10% EWS quota, the TDP Government proposed another Bill to reserve 5% within the EWS quota for the Kapu community in the state. This move was supported by Kapunadu leader Mudragada Padmanabham. Subsequently, the Bill was passed in the AP Legislative Assembly in February 2019 but could not be implemented.
After assuming power in May 2019, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy speaking in the assembly in July, rejected the Bill saying that the original EWS was approved by the Centre and the state had no right to modify it. He pointed out that the original demand of the Kapu community was to be included in the BC list and not have a special quota within the Forward Castes. It is important to remember that leading up to the election in 2019, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy never explicitly made any promise to give reservations to the Kapu community. Finally, the new Chief Minister temporarily put the matter to rest by saying that the matter is sub-judice and that the Government cannot take any decision despite repeated demands from Mudragada Padmanabham to go ahead with the Bill proposing 5 % quota for the Kapus within the EWS quota.
The fate of Kapu community’s demands remains uncertain and with the behaviour of the incumbent Government in AP they see very little hope from the YSRCP chief.