New Delhi: Opposition parties on Monday supported the Union cabinet’s move to approve 10% reservation for economically backward sections in the general category but criticised its timing and questioned the intent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in taking this decision.

The Congress said it will “support each step taken to uplift the poor" but asked why the government’s decision came just a day ahead of the end of the winter session of Parliament.

“Without interfering with constitutional mandate of reservation given to Dalits, adivasis, and backward classes in any manner, we have always said that those who are genuinely poor and are not covered in these sections should be given the benefit of opportunities and reservation," said Randeep Singh Surjewala, the chief spokesperson of the Congress.

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

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded that the government extend Parliament’s winter session “if it was serious" in its intent.

His Kerala counterpart and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Pinarayi Vijayan welcomed the move but said the decision was taken with the Lok Sabha elections in mind.

The Lok Sabha elections are less than three months away and Monday’s development is being seen as the BJP’s attempt to consolidate its upper caste vote base.

The Congress would keep a close eye on the developments and has issued a whip to its members in the Lok Sabha for Tuesday, according to a senior party leader.

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