No need for debate on reservation, it will stay: Ramdas Athawale

Kolkata: Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Tuesday asserted that there is no need for a debate on reservation in the country and said the Narendra Modi government should not be perceived as anti-Dalit.

Athawale also appreciated the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal saying it has done a good job in protecting the rights of Dalits and minorities. Commenting on RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's statement on reservation on Sunday, the Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment said it has been provided by the constitution and no one can take it away from the backward sections of the society. "Whatever Mohan Bhagwatji had said the RSS has clarified it. I want to assure the Dalits of this country that there is no question of debate or rethinking on the issue of reservation.

"It is a constitutional right and no one can take it away from the Dalits. The Narendra Modi government should not be perceived as anti-Dalit. The government stands with the Dalits and backward community of the country," Athawale said while addressing a press conference here. Bhagwat had said on Sunday that there should be conversation in harmonious atmosphere between those in favour of reservation and those against it. The RSS on Monday dismissed as "needless" the row over Bhagwat's remarks, asserting that he merely stressed on the need for mutual talks in harmony within society to address any issue.

RSS' 'prachar pramukh' (publicity head) Arun Kumar said in a tweet that his organisation has made it clear time and again that it fully supports reservation for Dalits, scheduled tribes, other backward classes and those getting it on to economic grounds. Referring to the attack on Dalits in the country, the minister, who is president of the NDA constituent Republican Party of India (Athawale), said the attacks are due to casteism that still exists in the society.

Athawale said he is in favour of a strong law in the country so that those involved in lynching of Dalits and minorities can be punished. A section of the people may be angry with the Dalits thinking that they are getting more benefits from the government and that could be a reason for the attacks on them, the minister said later at an event at the Merchants' Chamber of Commerce & Industry here. "Attacks on Dalits are not taking place because of the present dispensation at the Centre. It is taking place for a long time," he said.

To a question, Athawale praised the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal for its efforts in protecting the rights of Dalits and minorities. "There would no qualms to agree that Bengal is far ahead of other states in terms of protecting the rights of Dalits and minorities," he said. Speaking on the issue of population control, the union minister said, "There is a need for a stringent law in the country to enforce a policy of one-family one-child. If someone violates that law, he or she should lose voting rights and government benefits. There should be both - a strong law and awareness on this issue."

In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said "population explosion" causes innumerable challenges for the coming generations, and asserted that the central and state governments should launch measures to deal with the issue.

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