The current elections will mark a critical point in the history of reservation in the country: while the incumbent party is for more reservation for oppressed classes, the main opposition is silent about the issue, said Kancha Ilaiah, a Dalit writer.

Talking at the 123 birthday celebrations of B.R. Ambedkar held at Mangalore University here on Monday, Mr. Ilaiah said the BJP — which does not mention reservation in their manifesto — could take away reservation.

“If the reservation is taken back, and the youth are denied their rightful claim to education and employment, they will turn against the upper castes,” he said.

Ambedkar’s struggle

Mr. Ilaiah said even Gujarat Chief Minister M. Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial ambitions owed to Ambedkar’s movement that allowed any citizen — even the ‘lower castes’ — to stake claim for the country’s highest seat. This is in contrast, he said, to when Ambedkar could not get a university job though he had a doctorate. The Dalit youths were now backing Mr. Modi, he said.

He said reservation could be removed only when all classes were given equal access to education — with the same syllabus, same quality of schools, good nutrition for all, and access to English-medium education.

Mr. Ilaiah said promoting vegetarianism — or opposing the consumption of meat — was not just an economic fallacy but also oppressed the majority.

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