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Caste-based reservations: Ambedkar backed rethink on quotas… We’ve done nothing, says Sumitra Mahajan

“Ambedkar himself sought a 10-year review, we haven’t achieved the society of his dreams,” says Speaker.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Updated: January 24, 2016 7:08 am
caste politics, sumitra mahajan, rohith vemula death, rohith vemula suicide, hyderabad dalit suicide, hyderabad student suicide, india news File photo of Sumitra Mahajan. (Source: Express)

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Saturday advocated a “rethink” on caste-based reservations in the country, saying even Babasaheb Ambedkar had supported the same.

Addressing officials and representatives of local bodies at an event on smart cities here, Mahajan said, “Ambedkarji had said, ‘Give reservations for 10 years and after 10 years, do a rethink. Bring them to that stage’. We have done nothing. Even I am guilty of this… We have not thought about it. We do not contemplate why this (a rethink) has not happened.”

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Later in the day, replying to questions on her speech in Ahmedabad, Mahajan sought to clarify that she wasn’t expressing an opinion for or against the reservation policy. “What I am saying is we should also find out the reasons why we have not achieved the society dreamt of by Dr Ambedkar. We should ponder over the reasons for that also,” Mahajan said.

A few months ago, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comment seeking a review of the reservation policy was believed to have hurt the BJP in the Bihar Assembly elections, and had prompted a series of clarifications from the party.

In October 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear that there was no possibility of scrapping the reservation system, at a foundation stone laying ceremony in Mumbai for a grand memorial for Ambedkar.

Mahajan’s remarks come in the midst of the BJP trying to do damage control over its leaders’ remarks on Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad, which is seen as linked to caste discrimination. In Gujarat, the party has been facing protests by the wealthy Patidar community, whose demand for a quota for itself is seen as largely an anti-reservation campaign.

In her Ahmedabad speech, while seeking a rethink on caste-based quotas, Mahajan had narrated her experiences of a visit to Vitenam, saying, “In the last 20-25 years, they (the Vietnamese) have progressed so much that it can leave us surprised. At least I was surprised. Even after 60-70 years of Independence, we have not been able to eliminate casteism. Please excuse me, and do not take this politically.”

In the context of smart cities, Mahajan said removing encroachments in cities was a big challenge for the political class. “I understand that… If I displace somebody, then tomorrow there will be no votes for me; and if there are no votes, then how will I remain a representative? So what will I do? I will do nothing. In politics, votes are a priority… But I also need to display strength in removing the encroachments, and at the same time, providing all the facilities…,” she said.

Watch video: Suspended Dalit Hyderabad Student Hangs Himself: What Transpired

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    Anshu Deepak
    Feb 28, 2017 at 8:36 pm
    Any statute commission ( nationally or internationally) to study / revision of reservation provision for SC/ST will surely recommend for it's extension for another 25 - 30 years. lt;br/gt;Reason : We've huge potion still vulnerable on socioeconomic from. Almost 25 crore ppl living life in below poverty line as per Indian standard of earning (Rs. 40 around per day). And Almost 55 crore ppl in poverty line as per UN standard of 1 USD per day.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;By this time the fact should've understood by at least educated indians...that , funds earmarked for reservation purpose have continuously been diverted and..rest amount were no way adequate to bring any substantial change. However good intention that's been enshrined in our consution...but corruptions never let it happened. And if it continued for some more decade then...this social -economic disparity will be the reason alone for the unity and integrity of this nation. lt;br/gt;55 Crore ppl living below poverty line ...is a result of continued ignorance. lt;br/gt;It's a matter of shame for us .lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Get the mandate and decide the country policy.
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      sk
      Jan 8, 2017 at 7:54 am
      Rohit Vemula's suicide? He is neither an SC nor ST, why mention his name?
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      1. Jai Kumar
        Jan 24, 2016 at 6:34 pm
        Does reservation get rid of caste system
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          Apwildfire
          Jan 24, 2016 at 2:04 pm
          Correctly said .now its time to think to overhaul the reservation system.the fruits should reach the needy but not the fake ones .
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            I.beg.you.brahmin.dumbs
            Jan 24, 2016 at 12:19 am
            What she is SHOUTING is : HELO ALL BRAHMINS, WE BRAHMIN JOKERS PARTY(BJP)IS WITH YOU. PLEASE DROP "ATLEAST" YOUR VOTES TO BJP, PLEASE .....PLEASE
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