Lucknow/New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today came in for stinging criticism for her remarks on reservation, with BSP chief Mayawati calling it reflective of the discriminatory “Manuvadi” mindset of upper castes. JD(U) president Sharad Yadav too indirectly targeted her for having said the architect of the Indian Constitution B R Ambedkar had suggested a “rethink” on quotas every 10 years, saying “The limit of 10 years was not laid down for reservations in education and employment.”
“…what Sumitra Mahajan has said on review of caste-based reservation in Ahmedabad raises doubt that it is an outcome of Manuvadi mentality,” Mayawati said in a statement in Lucknow.
“As it is, it is well known that when those having the narrow and dangerous mentality of the RSS speak about reivew, it amounts to ending this facility,” she said. “Even before the issue of Dalit youth Rohith Vemula being forced to commit suicide because of casteist harassment could die down, a lady holding high constitutional post issuing this statement has added fuel to the fire,” Mayawati said.
Mahajan had on Saturday said, “I am not against reservations. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had put the cap on reservation for 10 years thinking that by that time we will be able to create such a society in independent India that everybody will come on the same level.”
Speaking to newspersons after a conference of presiding officers of Parliament and state legislatures, Mahajan had said after every 10 years Parliament extends the reservations for another 10 years.
“This means we have not achieved Ambedkar’s wish of bringing all at the same level. After every 10 years all the parties just say yes to increasing the time limit of reservation,” she had said.
JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav said in a statement in Delhi that the constitutional arrangement for quotas in jobs and education was not intended to be reviewed every 10 years.
“Only political reservations (seats reserved in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies) were to be for 10 years and the policy review was to be made after that as mentioned by Babasaheb B R Ambedkar, and that is why after every 10 years, the Parliament extends political reservations,” he said.
Yadav said even after about 70 years of independence social and economic disparity has not been eliminated and the people belonging to underprivileged and deprived sections of the society are still suffering from this “disease”. He also linked the issue of Hyderabad research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide to societal discrimination.
“The height of caste discrimination is clear even today from the case of suicide of Rohith Vemula, a dalit student in the University of Hyderabad, against which Baba Saheb Ambedkar started his fight before independence,” he said.
Referring to Vemula’s suicide, Mayawati said,”If Rohith is denied justice even after death, it will be assumed Prime Minister Narendra Modi getting emotional while speaking about him at a function in Lucknow on Friday was a mere drama and his tears were in reality crocodile tears.”
Mayawati said in a country where one faced casteist behaviour at every level and in every sphere, talking about ending constitutional arrangements made to overcome this disparity will further encourage injustice and atrocity. Noting that the policy of reservation is being used as a strategy to overcome discrimination and as a compensatory exercise, Yadav said a large section of our society was historically denied right to property, education, business and civil rights because of discrimination on caste basis.
“In order to compensate for the historical denial and to have safeguards against discrimination we have the reservation policy,” he said. During last year’s Bihar Assembly election, Yadav’s party had made a big issue out of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks that appeared to favour a review of the reservation system.