Senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh Wednesday clarified that his party was not opposed to quotas for the unreserved category per se but anomalies like those having an annual income of up to eight lakh rupees even though they might be paying income tax.
Asked about the party's stand in the Parliament, where its members spoke vehemently against the bill brought by Narendra Modi government in both Houses, the former Union minister said the RJD had, faltered on this count. It is wrong to say that the RJD is opposed to quotas for upper castes. No leader from the party has said that the poor among the unreserved category should get no help. There are some provisions like the Rs eight lakh limit which we opposed and for good reason. You cannot be an income tax payer and deemed to be economically backward at the same time, Singh told reporters here.
Asked about his party's vociferous stance against the bill in Parliament, Singh, who is a national vice-president of the RJD, said bhool chook ho jaya karti hai (people tend to falter sometimes). Singhs comments come in the backdrop of fears that the stance of RJD which champions the cause of OBCs may be resented by the upper castes and those among minority communities stand to gain from the quotas.
The party has dismissed the move as an electoral stunt aimed at diverting attention from demands like making the report of caste census public and changing the proportion reserved for SCs, STs and OBCs accordingly. RJD leaders have also alleged that extending reservations to the economically backward could be a step, by the BJP, in the direction of doing away with quotas for socially and educationally backwards enshrined in the Constitution to which the ruling party's parent body RSS has been allegedly opposed.
Meanwhile, state minister Pashupati Kumar Paras, who is the brother of LJP chief and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan and president of the party's state unit, expressed the hope that the quotas would be introduced in Bihar by the Nitish Kumar government at the earliest.
(With inputs from agencies.)