Nidhi Razdan, NDTV, Friday, April 21, 2006 (New Delhi):
The UPA government seems to be facing internal differences over its proposal to introduce new reservations in Central universities and the private sector.
NDTV has learnt that some of the ministers and Congress leaders want the two proposals to be deferred.
Union Minister Sharad Pawar, who was a part of the group of ministers looking at private sector quotas, has said the UPA allies should be consulted and nothing should be thrust on corporate India.
Congress sources also say they are worried that Arjun Singh’s proposal for 27 per cent reservations in educational institutions could alienate the middle class votebank, which has finally started warming upto the party.
Deferring the plans
Some of the ministers are now planning to push for deferring the draft when it comes up in the Cabinet, and propose options like sending it to a group of ministers or a committee.
Sources say revoking the proposal completely would amount to political suicide, which is why the leaders are keen to find a middle ground.
"We don’t want a confrontation on the issue, we want to find a way out to please every group," said Congress MP Rajeev Shukla.
The proposal for SC/ST job quotas in the private sector has also faced stiff opposition from corporate India, and some Cabinet ministers want to send it to a committee for further study.
They say Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself favours only voluntary job quotas.
The house now seems divided between Social Justice Minister Meira Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan on one side versus the rest, and it remains to be seen which way the decision will finally swing.