KEY NDA ally and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday asked the BJP-led government to take “affirmative action” and reserve jobs for SC/STs in the private sector to tackle the “increasing problem of Naxalism”.
With caste-based reservation at the centre of a nationwide debate, Paswan said, “What is the reason behind the increasing problem of naxalism? The reason is that their lands are being snatched away. This land has gold and coal beneath it. You dig it out and shoo them away. The youth then take up the wrong path… So it is necessary to provide reservation in the private sector.”
The LJP chief added, “We want affirmative action to be taken in this regard. If a private company is taking funds from the government, then such companies should implement SC/ST reservation in their firms. This was our demand earlier, it is our demand even now.”
The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, who was in Ahmedabad for a review meeting with officials of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) said jobs could be reserved at Class III and Class IV levels to provide equitable reservation to backward sections of society.
Paswan, however, criticised the role that caste played in the politics of Bihar, his home state. “Bihar is an incredible place. The caste system is present in all states but in all of them, development gets top priority.
In Bihar, caste is on top and everything else at the bottom. It is on the strength of caste that the present government is ruling the state,” he said.
Praising the Centre for its efforts to give “top priority” to Babasaheb Ambedkar, he pointed to memorials of the Dalit icon being constructed in various locations in India and the one in London.
The LJP chief’s comments come at a time when several voices from within the RSS and the NDA have spoken out about a “rethink” on the caste-based reservation policy. The latest among them was RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi, who said on March 13 that while reservation for SC/STs was “just”, prosperous sections demanding quotas was “not a step in the right direction”.
Meanwhile, talking about the National Food Security Act, Paswan said that 10 more states would be added to the list of those implementing the Act. “When I became the minister, only 11 states had implemented the NFSA… today, we are happy to tell you that the number of states has increased to 21, including Gujarat, which will implement it by April 1, 2016,” Paswan said.