Press Trust of India,
Allahabad, December 17, 2006
Observing that the Sachar Committee's report has "brought to light a social reality", former Prime Minister VP Singh on Sunday suggested the creation of a sub-quota for disadvantaged groups like Muslims within the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs.
"It has been over a decade since we implemented the Mandal Commission's recommendations. Yet many of the underdogs have failed to benefit from it. This is a social reality that has got reflected in the Sachar Committee's report," he said.
Singh, regarded as the architect of Mandal, said there was a need for affirmative action in favour of the minorities and most backward castes and that the same could be achieved without a constitutional amendment.
"The government should consider creating a sub-quota for these socially disadvantaged groups within the 27 per cent reservation that has been given to the backwards," he said.
On the controversy over "creamy layer" among OBCs, he said, "Care should be taken to ensure that the needy avail the quotas and that would serve the purpose."
Approving the government's nod to reservation in higher educational institutions, Singh said he had been in favour of giving a 10 per cent quota to the poor among upper castes but could not do so due to "constitutional constraints".
Defending his stand against special economic zones, Singh accused the Central and state governments of assisting the capitalist class at the cost of farmers.
"The capitalist class claims to be a champion of free market. Then why do business groups not negotiate with farmers directly and purchase land at market rate? Why do they need governments' help to buy land at throw-away prices?" he said. More
"If that is so, why do not Reliance and Tata try and get land at the same price on their own? Clearly, the concerned state governments have been coercing farmers to dispose of their land at throw-away prices," he said.
Lauding Congress President Sonia Gandhi for "showing some concern" over the manner in which land acquisition was taking place, Singh wondered why "the government headed by her party" was so indifferent.
"No government at the Centre or in the states has shown any sincerity on this issue. The only government which has taken a categorical stand (against setting up of SEZs) is the one headed by Nitish Kumar in Bihar," Singh said.
Claiming that people have lost faith in the Uttar Pradesh government, Singh said, "Undoubtedly, free and fair elections are not possible under the present dispensation. The violence during the recently held local body polls has proven that."
Singh evaded a direct reply on whether he favoured President's rule in Uttar Pradesh, but said if the Governor sends a report in this regard to the Centre, the latter will have to take a decision.
"I will not affirmatively say that article 356 be invoked now in UP's case. The ball is, however, in the UPA government's court," he said.