Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said a “dialogue” has been initiated to carve out “reservation for economically weaker sections” cutting across castes without prejudicing the existing system even as she snubbed the party’s influential general secretary Janardan Dwivedi who had called for an end to caste-based reservations and proposed a switch to quota on the basis of financial backwardness.
“There should be no ambiguity on the stand of the Congress on the system of reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs. They were introduced by the Congress, they have been strengthened by the Congress, and they will continue to be championed by the Congress,” Sonia said.
With the BJP, SP and BSP slamming the Congress over Dwivedi’s remarks, seen by many as the party’s bid to test waters, the party swung into damage control. Though the party had on Tuesday said his suggestions could be considered, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala later termed the remarks as Dwivedi’s “personal views”.
Sources said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had directed that the party disown his remarks.
“His (Dwivedi’s) statement on the issue of caste-based reservation or absence thereof is his personal opinion. The Congress continues to adhere to, subscribe to and support the existing reservation policy as on today. There is no re-thinking or change in our stand,” Surjewala said. Significantly, Surjewala said economic reservation is not possible as it is “not conceived in our constitutional system as it exists today.”
With the BSP and other parties disrupting Parliament over the issue, MoS for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said, “The government is not considering any proposal to provide reservation based on economic criteria”.
However, Sonia’s remarks indicated that the discussion in the party for reservation on the basis of financial backwardness is at an advanced stage and sources said the party could crystallise the proposal for inclusion in the manifesto.
Dwivedi remark ‘trial balloon’: BJP
NEW DELHI: The BJP on Wednesday ridiculed Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi’s proposal to scrap caste-based reservation as a “trial balloon” by the ruling party to deflect attention from the alleged misgovernance of the Congress. “This seems to me like a trial balloon… There is a deliberate attempt to start a new debate in the country. This is not right,” BJP deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
“Our apprehension is that there is a strong sentiment against the government. On issues like unemployment, price rise, corruption and lack of development and security, there is strong sentiment against the government. To sidetrack this, two attempts are being made – an attempt to start a communal-secular debate and the second is this new trial balloon,” Prasad claimed. ENS