Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reiterated there would be no dilution in job reservations, in a bid to control damage over RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s recent statement which was seen by many as against it.
“Rights given by Babasaheb Ambedkar for the socially backward classes will never be taken away by my government. We are ruling in many states and nowhere has job reservation been touched,” Modi said at an election rally in Nalanda.
“There is absolutely unanimity in Parliament about reservation. Nowhere in the country is there a demand to reverse it. Had it not been for Ambedkar (and the consciousness he raised), this EBC, tea-seller’s son would never have become PM”, he said.
Modi said for 25 years the ‘grand alliance’ leaders Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar had pursued casteist politics for electoral gains and that his elevation to the post of Prime Minister had shaken them.
“They are angry because an extremely backward caste (EBC), poor tea-seller’s son has become PM. This is why Lalu and Nitish humiliate me and Congress targeted me for years (over Gujarat riot cases)”, Modi said, with an eye on Bihar’s biggest EBC vote bank.
Modi spoke on his government’s commitment to reservations at all the election rallies -- Saran, Vaishali, Nalanda and Patna -- addressed by him during the day.
His clarification comes after Bhagwat’s statement last month -- that he he favours a review of the country’s reservation policy -- put the BJP on the defence in Bihar where Dalits and backwards make up a majority chunk of the electorate.
The RSS chief’s statement is a campaign point in Bihar, with the ‘grand alliance’ leaders alleging that this showed the BJP-led alliance was planning to dilute job quotas.
Bhagwat later dispelled accusations that the BJP’s ideological mentor was anti-quota by expressing support for reservations in his Dussehra speech.
On Sunday, finance minister Jaitley on a visit to the state, said Bhagwat never said what was propagated by the BJP’s rivals.
“He (Bhagwat) has clarified himself, that he is favour of reservation... BJP has always been in favour of reservation,” Jaitley said.