PATNA: Opposition parties in Bihar, which have come together and formed a Grand Alliance to take on the BJP-led NDA in the next Lok Sabha polls, on Monday dismissed as an electoral stunt the Narendra Modi governments decision to extend 10 per cent reservations to the economically backward among the upper castes.
Rashtriya Lok Samata Party chief Upendra Kushwaha, who was a Union minister till a month ago, said "while in NDA whenever I sought to draw the governments attention towards inadequacy of the 50 per cent ceiling on quotas, I was offered the alibi that it was fixed by the Supreme Court and breaking the barrier would require a constitutional amendment. Now, I wonder how they are going to implement this proposed quota unless they bring in the necessary constitutional amendment. It is, of course, an electoral stunt, another example of jumlebaazi (rhetoric)."
A similar gimmick was resorted to by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar a few years ago when he set up a Savarna Ayog.
"Nobody knows what happened to that," Kushwaha told reporters here. "The NDA is in dire straits and Lok Sabha polls are round the corner. The move is a desperate attempt to win over a section of the society with a misleading promise. But the upper castes are never found to be wanting in discernment. They would see through the game," he claimed.
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav said Ambedkar had envisaged reservations as a measure to remove social and educational inequality. And that aim remains still unrealized as just a 50 per cent quota has been set apart for a social segment that comprises about 85 per cent of the total population. To a pointed query as to whether he was in support of extending reservation benefits to the poor among the upper castes, Yadav the leader of the opposition in the state assembly and a former Deputy CM shot back the 50 per cent that falls outside reserved category has remained open for the 15 per cent.
Moreover, if the Modi government is so sincere about improving the people's economic condition, he should fulfil his own promises of two crore jobs and a cash transfer of Rs 15 lakh into the account of every poor Indian.
Yadav also reiterated his party's demand for making the report of caste census public and revision of reservation quotas for respective social groups accordingly.
Former Chief Minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) founding president Jitan Ram Manjhi said I say you do not give 10, but 15 per cent reservations to the poor among the upper castes.
But before that please raise the limit for reserved seats to 90 per cent so that all segments of the society get their due.
Unless this is done it will be seen as an electoral stunt.
Besides RLSP, RJD and HAM the "Mahagathbandhan" in Bihar comprises Congress and lesser-known parties like LJD and VIP.
The Congress has called the proposed quotas an "election gimmick".
Meanwhile, State minister and JD(U) leader Jai Kumar Singh thanked the Narendra Modi government for the move saying our victory in the state as well as at the Centre depends a lot on the support we enjoy among the upper castes.