The Bill providing for reservation to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes in government job promotions is being stymied by people intent on playing politics with the Dalit community, alleged Lok Jan Shakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday.

Disagreeing with suggestions that reservation ought to be done away with, Mr. Paswan observed that still a large number of SCs, STs remained excluded from private services and businesses.

“In Parliament, it is only due to reservation that representatives of the weaker sections of society have managed to secure a toehold,” said the LJP chief, in a tacit rebuke to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh’s vociferous efforts to stall the Bill in Parliament.

While acknowledging the need for merit, the LJP chief said encouraging inter-caste marriage would be one way of dismantling caste hierarchy.

On the heightened tensions on the Line of Control owing to the recent skirmishes between Pakistan and India, Mr. Paswan condemned the beheading of an Indian soldier. He said: “This is a dangerous incident and we cannot compromise on security. But the matter is best left to the Defence Ministry as it is beyond the ken of any political party…There should be no attempts to politicise the incident.”

FDI in retail

The LJP chief supported the Congress green signal to foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail sector. “Reforms in the retail sector are in the best interests of farmers as well as consumers, especially as the former have always got a raw deal for their crops owing to middlemen. In addition, there is no compulsion on States to allow foreign capital… so if things do not pan out well, there is always room for change,” he said.

Mr. Paswan ruled out the possibility of a third front of non-Congress, non-BJP parties in the 2014 Parliamentary polls. It was not “politically feasible.”

“There is considerable disunity among probable third front candidates,” he said, citing the instance of chronic rivalry between the dominant regional players in the States of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

He categorically stated that his party would ally with the Congress. There would be no truck with the BJP owing to its communal hue. He would contest the 2014 elections with his ally, Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Ruing the intense fragmentation affecting Dalit politics, he said the Dalit parties should forge an ideological coalition.

Mr. Paswan said he would soon embark upon a campaign to bolster his party in Maharashtra.

  • “A large number of SCs/STs still excluded from private services and businesses”

  • Third front not politically feasible, says LJP chief