Nagpur: Union minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari on Monday said reservation is necessary for progress of members of a socially and economically backward community, but the quota system alone cannot ensure their complete development.
He emphasised on progress of a community through education, social and economic means. Gadkari also talked about leadership beyond caste considerations and praised PM Narendra Modi "for never invoking his caste".
The Union minister was addressing the gathering at the 'Akhil Bharatiya Mali Samaj Mahaadiveshan', organised by the Mahatma Phule Shikshan Sanstha.
Mali community leaders, speaking at the event earlier, demanded, among other things, more representation and election tickets for members of their social group, which falls in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.
Gadkari, later addressing the gathering, said such demands are very common from every community and asked them to look beyond such assertions.
The BJP leader said he has personally experienced that community getting maximum ministers does not mean members of that social group will progress.
Gadkari said, "When people fail to get ticket on the basis of their works (krututva) they play caste card." "I want to ask - did George Fernandes (a former Union minister and socialist stalwart) belong to any caste? He did not belong to any caste...he was a Christian. Did Indira Gandhi come to power because of caste?
"Did Ashok Gehlot belong to your caste? But he became Chief Minister of Rajasthan when people from other caste groups helped him," he said.
"People had told me that women should get reservation, 'I said yes they should get reservation'. But, I immediately asked them, did Indira Gandhi get reservation. For several years she ruled the country and became popular.
"Similarly, did Vasundhara Raje and Sushma Swaraj (BJP leaders) get reservation?" said Gadkari.
The Union minister emphasised on promoting good and visionary leadership from a community so that their members can move forward on path of success.
"Reservation should be given, but to those who are oppressed (shoshit-pidit), Dalits, socially and economically backward sections of the society.
"But, it is not true if one thinks that by reservation alone a community will get complete progress. The communities which got maximum reservation have progressed - this thinking is also not true," he said.
Gadkari said, "In politics those who do good work, don't have to ask for votes as the votes come to them naturally."
"Prime Minister Modi never talks about his caste. I really appreciate Modiji. Aaj tak Narendra Modiji ne kabhi nahi kahaan main backward community se hue (PM Modi has never said he belongs to a backward community," Gadkari said.
"There are people who went one to became big leaders, but no one ever talks about their caste. Hence, we should create such leaders who can successfully lead the country, states and change the economic condition of the society," the Union minister said.
Mali community leaders at the convention requested Gadkari to push for awarding the 'Bharat Ratna' to legendary social reformers from Maharashtra, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule. Gadkari said he would talk to the prime minister regarding their demand.