In a discernible difference in the way it proposes to address the aspirations of the reserved categories (SCs, STs, OBCs), the BJP has moved away from endorsing caste-based reservation to pushing for an ecosystem of equal opportunity in its manifesto released on Monday.
Manifestos of all parties make explicit reference to quotas, but the BJP has restricted itself to empowerment and opportunity through widening the platform. This is in sharp contrast to the party’s 2009 manifesto, which stated that the BJP would “introduce education and job quotas on the basis of economic criteria for all economically weaker sections of society other than Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, who will continue to enjoy quota benefits.”
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said: “Our idea of affirmative action is now being dealt with on a wider platform. We are talking of identifying 100 most backward districts for bringing them on a par with other districts.”
The party in its manifesto talks of an enabling environment and equal opportunities. “Instead of pursuing identity politics and tokenisms, we will focus on empowering the deprived sections of society. Steps will be taken to create an enabling ecosystem of equal opportunity — for education, health and livelihood.”Madrasa modernisation
As evidence of its concern for the minorities, the BJP in its manifesto has outlined madrasa modernisation, empowerment of Waqf Boards and preservation of cultural heritage.
“It is unfortunate that even after several decades of Independence, a large section of the minorities, especially the Muslim community, continues to be stymied in poverty. Modern India must be a nation of equal opportunity.”