Quota row: Ram Vilas Paswan tears into RSS

Says controversial remarks hit NDA in Bihar polls, may cast shadow in UP now.

New Delhi: BJP ally and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Sunday took a swipe at the RSS over its timing of controversial comments, noting a similar row had cost NDA heavily in the Bihar polls. Mr Paswan was referring to the remarks made by RSS publicity chief on reservation, wondering why it makes such remarks during elections.

Mr Paswan, the most prominent dalit face in the Narendra Modi government, said his party LJP will oppose “tooth and nail” any attempt to subvert the existing quota system.

He said it was natural for people to get confused by the kind of comments RSS spokesperson and its all-India publicity chief Manmohan Vaidya made about reservation recently.

“Last time RSS had made similar comments during the Bihar Assembly polls and now it has said so during the Uttar Pradesh polls. What I cannot fathom as to why does it make such comments during elections? We had suffered heavily in Bihar due to this. RSS is an independent organisation and I don’t know why it gives such statements. It is but natural for people to be confused by such comments,” Paswan was quoted as telling PTI.

RSS publicity chief Manmohan Vaidya had on Friday made remarks favouring a review of the reservation policy, saying even Ambedkar had not favoured its continuance in perpetuity, comments that could be potentially damaging for BJP in elections to five state Assemblies.

“Reservations for SC/ST was introduced in a different context. It was provided for in the Constitution to remedy the historical injustice done to them. It was our responsibility. So, reservation for them has been there since the inception (of the Constitution). But, even Ambedkar has said its continuance in perpetuity is not good. There should be a time limit to it,” Mr Vaidya was quoted by news agencies as having told an interactive session at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s similar remarks about the need for a review of the reservation policy, just ahead of Bihar polls, had cost the BJP dearly as it saw a massive consolidation of the electorate from the backward classes and weaker sections in favour of Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance.

Social justice and secularism are two main planks of LJP and it will not allow any government to tinker with reservation policy, which is a Constitutional right, Mr Paswan said.

Mr Paswan noted Mr Modi had made it clear that nobody can touch reservation as long as he was alive and added that he had taken several measures to promote Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the Dalit icon and architect of the Constitution.

The Bihar leader also noted that he played a key role in pushing for quotas. Existing reservation benefits over 85 per cent of population and no government can afford to tinker with it, he said.

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