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RSS’ views on reservation can’t force a rethink on quotas: Ram Vilas Paswan

Union minister and chief of Lok Janshakti Party Ram Vilas Paswan insists that reservation is here to stay and that the government is not concerned about the RSS’ views on the quota system for backward classes.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2017 07:26 IST
Jatin Gandhi
Jatin Gandhi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Reservation,Ram Vilas Paswan,RSS
Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan says the decision to set up a commission to implement sub-categorisation within the central government reservation bracket for Other Backward Classes reaffirmed the government’s commitment to quotas.(HT PHOTO)

The views of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) have no bearing on the Narendra Modi government’s policy on reservation for the backward castes and classes, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Thursday.

“Despite all the rumours and talk about the RSS, it is unthinkable for the government to move away from reservation…the government is not budging,” the food minister and chief of the Lok Janshakti Party told HT in an interview, a day after the union cabinet decided on setting up a commission for sub-categorisation of other backward classes for what it called a “more equitable distribution” of quota benefits. It also raised the income ceiling from Rs 6 lakh per annum to Rs 8 lakh for the creamy layer to avail reservation benefits.

The RSS is the ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and has repeatedly called for ending reservation. In September 2015, a month before the Bihar assembly elections and at a time the Patidars in Gujarat were agitating for reservation, Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat had stirred a controversy by calling for a review of the government’s reservation policy.

Asked about the Sangh’s influence and Bhagwant’s views on reservation, Paswan said, “The government is not concerned with who says what outside. There will be no rethink. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that he is committed to continuing reservation,” Paswan said.

Read more: ‘Creamy layer’ income bar for OBCs raised, new panel for sub-categories

“If we would have implemented this policy as envisaged by the Constitution makers instead of doing politics over it, then present situation would not have arrived. Since inception it has been politicised,” Bhagwat had said in an interview to the RSS mouthpiece Organiser in September 2015.

In January, the RSS’s chief spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya quoted BR Ambedkar to underline the need for ending reservation. “Dr Ambedkar has said, in any nation, it’s not good to have reservation forever. The need for it should be done away with as soon as possible and instead a time should come to provide everyone with equal opportunity… that’s the service of reservation,” Vaidya said at a literature festival, as he stirred another controversy.

Paswan said the decisions on Wednesday reaffirmed the government’s commitment. “The commission will be set up within days from now. It will decide the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters for creating sub-categories within the OBCs within 12 weeks,” the minister said.

The government wants to ensure that the dominant groups within the OBCs do not corner reservation benefits. “There are 5000 castes under the OBC umbrella. Not all get benefits,” he said.

The now-scrapped national commission for backward classes in 2015 had recommended three categories for OBCs -- extremely backward classes, more backward classes, and backward classes.

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 10:44 IST