Monday, May 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

BJP moots job quota for upper caste poor

Jaipur, May 25
In a bid to take the wind out of Congress’ sail ahead of the Assembly elections in four states and the Lok Sabha elections next year, the BJP today proposed the setting up of a national commission within a week to provide for job reservation for economically weaker sections among the upper castes. The BJP also projected its state party chief Vasundhara Raje as the chief ministerial candidate in the Rajasthan Assembly election.

A resolution adopted at a meeting of BJP central office-bearers, presided over by Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani, here to firm up the party’s poll strategy asked the Vajpayee government to establish the commission to provide job reservation for the economically backward without diluting the existing provisions for SCs, STs and OBCs.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan said the party would urge Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to set up the commission within a week.

The resolution said the BJP was of the view that certain sections of society, which are not covered under existing reserved categories, were economically so poor that they needed a special treatment.

The sections should be called Economically Backward Classes (EBCs), it said, adding that however, the party favoured this provision in addition to the reservation for the existing castes.

The BJP resolution came four after days after the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan announced 14 per cent job reservation for economically weaker sections among the upper castes, including Brahmins, Vaishyas and Rajputs that had stumped the BJP.

Mr Mahajan dismissed as a “sheer stunt” Rajasthan Government’s move to reserve 14 per cent jobs for the economically weaker sections among upper castes and claimed it was the BJP which had first raised the issue at a meeting in Bhopal.

He said the reservation for EBCs would require a Constitutional amendment and suggested a meeting of the Chief Ministers of 28 states and union territories be called in a bid to create a national consensus on the issue.

The BJP also said development and national security would be its main planks in the coming Assembly elections and asked party cadres to thwart Congress’ attempts to rake up issues of Hindutva and “pseudo-secularism.”

Addressing state party workers here after the central office-bearers meeting, Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani said, “Devoid of any real development issue, the Congress is harping on pseudo-secularism to divert people’s attention.”

He said the BJP had promised security and development before the last Lok Sabha elections and the NDA government, headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had “fulfilled this promise” made to the electorate. PTI


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