Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Chirag Paswan on Thursday reiterated the need to retain the reservation system, saying there was no question of reviewing it so long as social inequality continues to be a harsh reality in the country.
“Why should we review the reservation system? For the people coming from the Scheduled Tribe/Scheduled Tribe community, it’s not just a fight for economic equality – it’s a fight for social equality,” Chirag Paswan, who is the son of party founder Ram Vilas Paswan, told NDTV in an interview.
Chirag Paswan claimed that reservations will need to remain “as long as Dalits are prevented from entering temples to worship” by their upper-caste counterparts. “Things have not changed even after three decades. And until the time there is social equality, more than economic equality, nothing needs to be reviewed,” he said.
The LJP, a Bihar-based party with a strong following in the Dalit community, is a part of the National Democratic Alliance. Its leaders have often defended political ally BJP against allegations by opposition parties that the BJP is an “upper caste” party that wants to scrap the quota system.
“Do you think anybody can do away with the quota system? No government can do that, and the opposition knows this quite well. Our government has actually worked towards strengthening the quota system,” he said, citing the BJP-led centre’s move to extend quota benefits to economically weaker sections as a sign of its dedication to the reservation cause.
Chirag Paswan also termed a recent Supreme Court order omitting reservations in promotions from the ambit of fundamental rights as “disturbing”.
Quota for the scheduled caste/scheduled tribe community is a sensitive issue in Bihar, and political parties usually refrain from making overly explosive observations in this regard. It is widely believed that the BJP lost the 2015 assembly elections to the then Rashtriya Janata Dal-Janata Dal United-Congress combine partly because of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s call for a review of the reservation system. Opposition parties have been targeting the BJP and the RSS in this regard ever since.
“The BJP first tried to weaken the law against atrocities on Dalits and tribals. Now it is trying to weaken the equal rights given to them by the constitution and Babasaheb (Ambedkar),” Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi had tweeted soon after the Supreme Court order was pronounced.