Madhya Pradesh minister Gopal Bhargava has courted controversy by saying that the country will lag behind if those scoring low marks are given precedence over those scoring high marks. The remarks come in the wake of the Dalit outfits’ agitation against changes to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and a call for bandh to protest against the reservation policy.
“When those scoring 90 per cent are made to report to those scoring 40 per cent, the country will lag behind. This is not just a joke on Brahmins but on talent,’’ Panchayat and Rural Development and Social Justice minister Gopal Bhargava said Sunday.
Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “I did not use the word reservation. I was only talking about talent taking a back seat. If I don’t express my views in such social gatherings, where else will I do so? I can’t talk about the Quran and the Bible. I must talk about relevant issues and changes taking place in the society.’’
The minister, however, issued a clarification when his statement started doing the rounds on the social media.
“I am a staunch supporter of the system of reservation as laid down in the Constitution. I did not use the word reservation in my speech. I have never used in my 40-year political career. I have given jobs to hundreds of youths belonging to the Scheduled Castes and I have a list (of beneficiaries),” he said in a written statement. In 2008, at a function in the CM House, Bhargava said, “We don’t want reservation, give it to those beggars who are asking for it.”