15 May 2006 # IANS
New Delhi: The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Monday said only the reservation policy could uplift the backward communities even as it condemned the "brutal" police action on the students agitating against a proposal to increase quotas.
"Let the government hold discussions on various other options including increasing the number of seats to provide reservation to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes (OBCs)," CPI-M leader Mohammed Salim told reporters here.
Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh's proposal to reserve 27 percent seats for OBCs in central universities and elite educational institutions has sparked protests in many cities. Police in some places have resorted to baton charge on agitating students.
"We do not support the brutal police action on the students. The government should address their concerns too," Salim said at a press conference that was also attended by Basudev Acharya, CPI-M leader in the Lok Sabha.
The communists also came down heavily on "the mainstream media" for playing up the issue. "By whipping up emotions clandestinely among the students' community, you cannot stop reservations," Salim said.
"We cannot deny reservations to the weaker sections as the country has witnessed casteism for thousands of years. Steps have to be taken to uplift backward sections. All political parties have agreed to go by the constitution and its provisions in this regard.
"We request the students not to fall prey to such a campaign (against the reservation policy)," he said.
The CPI-M, which supports Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government from outside, asked it to initiate a dialogue with the agitating students.