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MPs condemn anti-reservation protest

MPs cutting across parties are unanimous in their condemnation of the stir.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 14:35 IST

Anti-reservation protesters who have stalled medical services for the last two weeks may have found support from quarters like the capital's traders, but MPs cutting across parties are unanimous in their condemnation of the stir.

Parliamentarians, whether from the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), say the ongoing strike by medical students - against the government's proposal to provide 27 per cent reservation for the other backward classes (OBCs) in higher educational institutions - is "unjustified and absolutely wrong".

Most MPs are of the view that the continuation of the strike, despite a promise from the government that there would not be any changes in the existing system, showed "the intolerance" among the "elite class".

"The government is just fulfilling a commitment it has given to the people of this country. Besides, both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President APJ Abdul Kalam assured them that it would not be a one-sided formula," V Kishore Chandra Deo, senior Congress MP pointed out.

"It is unfortunate that the students are on the street without understanding the realities. I think they are being misled," Deo said.

"It is nothing but intolerance," said Deo.

The Lok Sabha MP from Andhra Pradesh ridiculed the concern of medical students over the quality of education saying that it was an "elite argument and kind of lopsided also".

Former minister and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kashi Ram Rana agreed. He pointed out that the government had decided to go ahead with the quota policy only after getting a consensus from political parties.

"It is needed for the upliftment of the backward communities, which have been neglected for long," Rana said.

Shailendra Kumar of the Samajwadi Party echoed the sentiment.

"Although there has been reservation for backward communities since independence, nothing has so far been implemented completely. So you need strong action.

"Why should the students continue their strike? Has the government not told them that their interests would be protected," Kumar wondered.

"It is a wrong attitude."

Both Rana and Kumar were of the opinion that the government should use "peaceful measures" to convince the students.

"Nobody should feel neglected," Kumar asserted.

Added Rana: "If you do not address the concern of one section of people, social justice will not be done."

Communist Party of India (CPI) MP CK Chandrappan was more emphatic in his criticism. "The strike is absolutely unjustified. They are denying a historical right to the people who have been downtrodden and neglected for decades."

Tempering the argument, young Congress leader and industrialist Naveen Jindal said: "The students should realise that the reason behind the government's move is its sense of responsibility. I am confident they will realise that god has given us in plenty and nobody will be left behind."

The agitating medicos on Thursday received support from traders in the national capital, who announced a shutdown in the city. The Indian Medical Association had called for a nationwide shutdown on the day.