At his poll meeting at Naubatpur in Patna, the last on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on the issue of reservation, saying no party today could afford to make any change in the reservation policy enshrined in the Constitution.
He said that on this issue, he was with Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad and other leaders. “There will be no change in the reservation policy that Babasaheb Ambedkar espoused in the Constitution… In fact, no party today can afford to make any change,” he said. “Rights given by Babasaheb Ambedkar for the socially backward classes will never be taken away by my government … ” Mr. Modi said.
In the States where the BJP was in power quotas had not been tampered with, he said.
“I’ve been Chief Minister of Gujarat for 15 years… We’ve government in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Haryana and in other States as well but nowhere reservation has been touched.”
Striking a personal note, he said: “Sometimes I wonder had Babasaheb Ambedkar not been there, what would have happened to Narendra Modi, who was selling tea in trains in his childhood.”
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In a bid to clear the confusion over the BJP’s stand on the reservation issue, Mr. Modi said that he might have differences with Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad or others on other matters, but on the issue of quota he held the same view.
“We cannot even think of doing anything with the reservation policy. There has not been any demand for a change in the policy from anywhere…in fact, there are only demands from others to include them in the reservation benefits,” said the Prime Minister.
“But, since they [rival grand alliance leaders] have no other issues, they are spreading misinformation and canards against us,” Mr. Modi charged.
Earlier, in an interview, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had said that there should be a “review” of the reservation policy. That statement put the BJP-led NDA on the back foot in the Bihar election campaign.