Special Correspondent

"It is a Constitutional mandate now and it is our responsibility to implement it": Arjun Singh

Points to consensus across the political spectrum for such a moveMaharashtra Minister thanks Centre for the decision

NEW DELHI: Amid widespread furore that has been kicked up over the Government proposal to reserve seats for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Central educational institutions including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry on Friday maintained that the "Government has no escape" but to make such a provision as it is a Constitutional mandate now.

"Parliament has enacted a law [93rd Constitution Amendment Act]. It is our responsibility to implement it," HRD Minister Arjun Singh said in a brief interaction with the media. Also, he pointed to the consensus across the political spectrum for such a move.

The 93rd Amendment introduced a new clause in Article 15 of the Constitution under which the State can make any special provision by law for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes "in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions whether aided or unaided by the State other than minority educational institutions...."

Meanwhile, Maharashtra's Public Works Minister Chhagan Bhujbal met Mr. Arjun Singh to express gratitude for the Centre's move to reserve seats for OBCs in Central educational institutions.

He called on the HRD Minister in his capacity as chairman of Akhil Bhartiya Mahatma Phule Samata Parishad.

In a letter to the HRD Minister articulating his gratitude, Mr. Bhujbal noted with concern that this time also "misguided divisive tendencies and forces are trying to stir up public opinion and destabilise the process of social reforms".

Only last month the Parishad had submitted a charter of demands to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi listing the measures that ought to be taken to improve the lot of OBCs. Extending the Mandal Commission recommendations to Central educational institutions was one of the demands articulated by the Parishad.

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