No move to review quota policy: Modi

"Nothing has ever happened to reservation for Dalits and tribals when we are in power, but still lies are being spread to mislead people."

Updated - November 28, 2021 07:38 am IST

Published - March 21, 2016 12:41 pm IST - New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to B.R. Ambedkar after laying the foundation for a memorial in New Delhi on Monday. — Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to B.R. Ambedkar after laying the foundation for a memorial in New Delhi on Monday. — Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear on Monday that his government had no plans to revisit the reservation policy for Dalits and other communities, and accused his opponents of spreading “untruths” over the issue, not just during his tenure, but even when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM.

Mr. Modi was speaking after laying the foundation stone for a memorial for B.R. Ambedkar in New Delhi.

Last year, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, in an interview to Organiser, underscored the need to review the reservation policy. Early this month, RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi said during the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha meet in Nagaur, Rajasthan, that reservation should not be available to affluent sections.

Mr. Modi said no one in his government had suggested that such a review would be considered, an enterprise that would be impossible, he said, “even if Ambedkarji were to appear today”.

“Nothing has happened to reservation for Dalits, tribals, when we are in power, but still lies are being spread to mislead people. When Vajpayeeji became PM, a campaign was run, saying reservation would be abolished. He was PM for two terms and nothing of that sort had happened. The BJP has ruled Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Haryana for many years, and the policy was not altered. Yet, untruths are being spread. People who are only interested in politics fail to come out of it,” he said.

“As I said earlier, even if Ambedkarji appears today, he cannot snatch this very right of yours. What are we before Babasaheb?”

He compared Ambedkar to American civil rights icon Martin Luther King and said it would be an injustice to keep his personality limited to the cause of Dalits. Pointing out that Indian women got many rights under the Constitution because of Dr. Ambedkar, he criticised the Congress for not honouring his memory or legacy.

Mr. Modi said Dr. Ambedkar resigned as Law Minister from Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet owing to the lack of backing on the Hindu Code Bill that was a progressive move to codify and reform Hindu personal law in India.

Without naming the Congress, he accused “opponents” of attacking his government as he sought to overturn the undermining of Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy that had taken place earlier.

“Some people don’t like us. They don’t even want to see us. They get fever on seeing us and in fever, one loses control of [one’s] mind. That is why they say all kinds of lies and all absurd things. Those who did not work for 60 years have given us a chance to do this and we take pride in doing such works like building a memorial at 26, Alipur Road,” he said.

“Everybody knows what injustice was done to Baba Saheb and who did this injustice to him. What was the reason that the previous governments kept the decision on Indu Mills [in Mumbai where another memorial to Dr. Ambedkar is to come up] pending for so long?” he said.

“The same was the case for the place where Babasaheb stayed in London. Even after this, we are being blamed and a bad name is given to us. Wherever we have got the opportunity to serve, we have taken decisions out of shradha [reverence] towards Dr. Ambedkar,” he said, with reference to the furore against his government on the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.

The memorial will come up at Alipur in New Delhi where Dr. Ambedkar lived towards the end of his life.

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