RSS's publicity chief Manmohan Vaidya on Friday kicked up a row with remarks favouring a review of the reservation policy, saying even the architect of the Constitution B R Ambedkar had not favoured its continuance in perpetuity, comments that could be potentially damaging for BJP in elections to five state assemblies.
"Reservations for SC/ST was introduced in a different context. It was provided for in the Constitution to remedy the historical injustice done to them. It was our responsibility.
"So, reservation for them has been there since the inception (of the Constitution). But, even Ambedkar has said its continuance in perpetuity is not good. There should be a time limit to it," Vaidya told an interactive session at Jaipur Literature Festival.
Vaidya said instead of continuing with reservations infinitely, attempts should be made to make available to people equal opportunities for education and other things.
"Its continuance forever will promote sectarianism," he said. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's similar remarks about the need for a review of the reservation policy, just ahead of Bihar polls, had cost the BJP dearly as it saw a massive consolidation of the electorate from the backward classes and weaker sections in favour of Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Kumar had then raised an alarm, insisting the BJP would end reservations if voted to power in the state.
On Friday, Lalu quickly latched on to Vaidya's statement, saying Brahmins controlled the RSS and that reservation was provided for the targeted sections under the Constitution. He waid it was not a "charity" bestowed on them by the Sangh Parivar fountainhead.
"Modiji your RSS spokesman is again talking rubbish about reservation. We drubbed you (ragad, ragad ke dhoya) in Bihar, but probably more remains to be done which UP will," the RJD boss said in a tweet in Hindi.
"Reservation is something which has been granted by the Constitution. It is not a charity from a casteist organisation like RSS. We know how to show them their place," he said in another tweet.
Congress also reacted sharply to Vaidya's controversial remarks. "RSS-BJP's anti Dalit agenda exposed by Vaidya's call to abolish reservation. Caste & communal division is their dna", party's chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala tweeted. As he faced criticism over his remarks, Vaidya went on the defensive, saying as long as there is discrimination, reservation should continue. He, however, sought a time-bound probe into why its benefits had not reached the targeted people.
"As long as there is discrimination in the society, reservation should continue. We should end discrimination as soon as possible. But there should be an unbiased probe into why the weakest of the weak did not get the benefits of reservations so many years after independence," he said.