Union consumer affairs minister and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan pushed for 15 percent reservation for poor people among the upper castes as well. Media reports quoted Paswan as demanding the Centre set up a committee for assessment of the poor people in upper caste communities.
However, Paswan clarified that he was speaking on behalf of his party and not the central government, and added that this has been his party's demand from the beginning.
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Bihar industry minister Jai Kumar Singh had also pressed for a similar demand on Tuesday, seeking the formation of a 'Swarn Aayog' (Commission for the Upper Castes) by the Centre to provide reservation to the poor among the upper castes in the country. Singh, who belongs to the Rajput caste, is a ruling Janata Dal (United) MLA.
The JD(U) and the Bharatiya Janata Party are part of the ruling alliance in the state.
The minister said that Bihar had already set up such a panel and the central government should follow suit at the national level as well.
"We are not against reservation to Scheduled Castes and Tribes and the Other Backward Classes, but want reservation for the poor among the upper castes as well, since their socio-economic condition was no better than that of the poor Dalits and OBCs," he said.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had set up the Bihar Rajya Swarn Aayog in 2011 to look into the grievances of the poor among the upper castes and take steps for their socio-economic empowerment, including reservation, if necessary.
But the panel hasn't yet submitted any report or made recommendations for reservation to the poor among the upper castes.
Bihar witnessed violence during the Bharat Bandh called on 2 April by Dalit organisations over the reservation issue and another one on 10 April by anti-reservation groups.
Earlier this year, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Ramdas Athawale, had mooted a 25 percent reservation to the economically backward section among upper castes, saying the move would bring about social unity.
Athawale had told reporters that as people from various castes were demanding reservation, there was a need to provide them 25 percent quota by putting all such castes in one category, without touching the 49.9 percent reservation for Other Backward Classes (27 per cent), Scheduled Castes (15 per cent) and Scheduled Tribes (7.5 per cent).
He had said the creamy layer among these castes should be excluded from reservation. He added that on behalf of his Republican Party of India (RPI), he had placed this demand before Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"I told him that one of the many reasons for the atrocities on Dalits is reservation. Some castes hold a grouse that the Dalits get reservation while they don't," he said.
He had said the economically backward among the Brahmins and also sections of Muslims not covered under OBCs could also be brought under this category.
"The problem is that reservation is given on the basis of social backwardness. It is difficult to give reservation to the upper castes. But, if a legislation is passed to amend these guidelines, the economically backward among these castes can get reservation and this will be a good decision for the country," the RPI leader had said.
With inputs from IANS
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Updated Date: Apr 18, 2018 11:01:40 IST