New Delhi: Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, has reiterated that he favours a review of the country’s reservation policy, a stand that has created political controversy and forced the BJP on the backfoot in Bihar, which is in the middle crucial assembly elections.
Speaking to RSS workers in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, Mr Bhagwat was quoted by newspaper Dainik Jagran as emphasising that he is not against reservation, but believes that the people for whom the quota policy was drawn have not benefited from it. “So it must be reviewed and debated to ensure that those who actually need the benefit of reservation, get it,” he said.
His new remarks come only two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in Mumbai, “There will be no rethink on reservation policy.”
Mr Bhagwat had first suggested a review of the reservation policy in an interview last month. In Bihar, the BJP immediately had to stave off sharp attacks from the rival camp of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav, who alleged that the party wanted to abolish reservation to appease its upper caste vote bank and thereby deprive the socially backward of its benefits. The RSS is the ideological mentor of the BJP.
The BJP has partnered with three regional parties in Bihar who have support among the backward castes that benefit from affirmative action and form a significant portion of the voters. Mr Bhagwat’s comments sent top BJP leaders scurrying to control damage.
Union ministers of the BJP have repeatedly said since that the government and the party do not favour a review of the reservation policy.
Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United has lashed out over Mr Bhagwat’s latest comments. “The statement of Mohat Bhagwat on reservation is condemnable,” said KC Tyagi of the JD(U) this morning.