NEW DELHI: As the chorus of criticism against RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's call for a review of reservation policy grew louder, the Centre today made it clear that it was not in favour of reconsidering the existing quota system.
The fresh opposition to Bhagwat's call came when BSP chief and dalit leader Mayawati joined parties like Lalu Prasad-led RJD and Nitish Kumar's JD(U) in warning the NDA government of nation-wide agitation if it tinkered with the quota system.
The BJP yesterday had distanced itself from Bhagwat's call while the Congress had slammed him, saying the issue of reservation in India is settled as mandated by the Constitution.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad reiterated the line he had taken yesterday at a briefing in the BJP office, saying this was the stand of the party as well the government.
"Our government is not in favour of making any change in the existing reservation policy for the SCs, STs, backward castes and extremely backward castes. We believe that it is necessary for their economic, educational and social progress.
There is no need to reconsider it," he said at a press conference after the Cabinet meeting.
Mayawati, a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister who has a sizable influence among Dalits in the state, said the government will have to pay a heavy price if it dared to make change in the reservation system at the RSS' prodding.
"If the Narendra Modi government tries to toe the line of Bhagwat, if it tries to tamper with the humanitarian provision of reservation as enshrined in the Constitution, then BSP will launch a nation-wide mass agitation which will prove costly to the government," she said at a press conference here.
Bhagwat, however, got the backing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad which asked the Centre to set up a judicial commission to find out if the beneficiary castes needed it any more.
In an interview to RSS mouthpiece Organiser, Bhagwat had pitched for a review of the reservation policy, contending it has been used for political ends and suggesting setting up of an apolitical committee to examine who needs the facility and for how long.
As Bhagwat's remarks triggered a row, the RSS yesterday clarified that he did not speak about existing quota system but had said everybody should try to ensure that all weaker sections reap its benefits.
"In his interview RSS 'sarsanghchalak' Mohan Bhagwat did not speak about reservations being given to the weaker sections of society presently. He said everybody should strive that all weaker sections of society get reservation benefits as was the aspiration of makers of Constitution.
"This interview was not on the subject of reservation but about integral humanism and should be seen in this context," RSS chief spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya said in a statement.