Quota row: Arjun Singh slams Knowledge panel
The HRD Minister rejected suggestions for a "relook" into the proposals for OBC reservation in institutions.india Updated: May 14, 2006 20:20 IST
Unfazed by street protests over the issue of OBC quota, HRD Minister Arjun Singh on Sunday rejected suggestions for a "relook" into the proposals for reservation in elite educational institutions.
He also said it was up to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to decide when to bring the matter to the Cabinet.
Singh, projecting himself as the champion of the cause, however, left it to the Union Cabinet and Parliament to take a decision on the matter
"This is entirely for the Cabinet to decide. As soon as the Prime Minister allows it come in the Cabinet, a decision will be taken", he told reporters who wanted to whether the Bill in this regard would come up in the ongoing brief session of Parliament.
Singh dismissed as "propaganda" attempts to project the anti-reservation agitation as "Mandal II".
"There is no Mandal II, III or IV. It is all propaganda to vitiate the whole atmosphere."
At the same time, the HRD Minister said he was ready to talk to the agitating students. "I will always talk to protesting students."
Slamming the National Knowledge Commission headed by Sam Pitroda, majority of whose members have rejected the quota proposal, Singh said "well, with all due respect to the great Knowledge Commission, I must point out to them that they are not above the Constitution.
"They do not need to speak to any of us. Let them decide and the country will follow them if they are above the Constitution", he said.
On the middle-path advocated by party leader Rahul Gandhi, who had said that both favouring and opposing the quota have "valid points", he said a middle path could only be found in a calm and cool atmosphere and not when lathis were being used by one side and slogans by the other.
The National Knowledge Commission, which directly reports to the Prime Minister, continued to be his favourite punching bag as the HRD Minister said he could only "pity them".
"They do not know that there is a Parliament and there is a law passed by Parliament also. If they are unaware, then I can only pity them," Singh said.
Asked about the strategy he would follow now in the wake of the agitation, he said there was no strategy and what was needed was understanding.
"If there is no understanding in society, no strategy works. The issue can be resolved through talks. If those who did not get anything, they have to be given something, which is to be decided," he said.
The HRD Minister sought to buttress his point by saying that no party was against the proposal which had been passed in the Lok Sabha with near unanimity. "If anyone wants to change his stance, they are free to do," he said.
Singh parried several questions saying he would give clarifications, if asked, in the Cabinet and Parliament. "I cannot give outside."