Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday favoured 50% reservation in private sector jobs and said the Centre should initiate a debate on the issue.
Nitish's assertion comes a week after his Cabinet amended rules and made it mandatory for outsourced companies to follow the reservation policy adopted by the Bihar government.
The quota move was supported by RJD president Lalu Prasad, who, however, wondered how many private companies were there in Bihar.
"The move to reserve 50% seats in private sector jobs is fine. But Nitish should tell how will he implement the policy in a state where there is no factory, industry or private investment," Lalu said, taking a dig at his erstwhile ally.
Earlier in the day, while addressing the media Nitish said, "If the manpower is directly used by the government, the outsourced company will have to follow the reservation policy of Bihar. After all, the fund (for any work) is being provided by the government."
To buttress his point, he cited the 2006 recruitment of retired army personnel as SAP (state auxiliary police) jawans where reservation policies were followed.
"Though I am not in favour of outsourcing, I still feel that no contract should be signed if the company does not follow quota in its organisation," argued the chief minister.
Nitish has already introduced reservation in the lower judiciary and also kept 35% posts reserved for women in state government jobs.
However, Nitish's remarks drew flak from students belonging to the upper castes. "If 50% reservation is introduced even in private sector jobs, where will we go?," lamented a protestor, who sat on dharna outside the BJP office here in the state capital on Monday.
Senior BJP leader and former Union minister C P Thakur has already opposed such a move and asked Nitish to reconsider his decision.