Union minister of state for social justice Ramdas Athawale on Friday said the Constitution should be amended to provide 25% quota to the poor among the upper castes such as Patels and Marathas.
“I will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discuss this issue with him,” Athawale told reporters in Vadora during a a memorial function for Dalit icon B R Ambedkar.
“I am in favour of 25% reservation for the economically backward sections among the upper castes from the general quota,” he said, adding that he, thus, favoured 75% reservation overall.
“Patels under Hardik Patel’s leadership are demanding reservations in Gujarat, Jats are demanding reservations in Haryana, Rajputs and Gujjars have made same demand in Rajasthan. I am of the opinion that all these communities should be given reservation,” he said, adding that the Marathas were making the same demand in Maharashtra.
To increase the quantum of reservations, constitutional amendment should be made, he said.
He also made it clear that he was “firmly opposed” to the Maratha community’s demand of repealing the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
“If there are any specific suggestions for minor changes which would stop its misuse, my ministry will definitely examine them,” he said.
Gujarat culture minister Rajendra Trivedi, BJP MP Ranjanben Bhatt and several Dalit leaders were also present during the function.
If people insist on repealing the Act, then they need to first take steps to ensure that atrocities (on Dalits and tribals) do not happen,” he said, while condemning the rape and murder of a Maratha girl, allegedly by Dalit youths, at Kopardi in Maharashtra which triggered the ongoing Maratha protest.
Athawale, who heads RPI (A), said he has taken up the issue of alliance with the BJP for Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections with party president Amit Shah to “prevent Mayawati from coming to power”.
“We want to field 30 candidates in UP,” he said.
He also alleged that the Mayawati-led BSP had “grabbed” his party’s symbol ‘elephant’, and vowed to take it back by approaching the Election Commission and pointing out BSP’s failure to win a single Lok Sabha seat in UP in 2014 polls.
On the Uri terror attack, Athawale said, “Prime Minister Modi means business and India will give a befitting reply.”
On the flogging of Dalit youths by cow vigilantes at Una in Gujarat, Athawale expressed satisfaction over the investigation.
“I have met (Gujarat) chief minister Vijay Rupani and requested him to allocate a large chunk of land here for building a huge memorial of Dr Ambedkar,” he said.
He said a decision on increasing the scholarships for Dalit and OBC students will be taken very soon.