Quota bill to ensure 2019 polls: Paswan

Quota bill to ensure 2019 polls: Paswan

Ram Vilas Paswan

Narendra Modi government's move to provide 10% quota in government jobs and higher education to economically weaker sections (EWS) in general category will help the NDA romp home for the second consecutive term, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Thursday.

Responding to questions at a press conference, Paswan, a prominent Dalit face of the ruling alliance, also said that the Modi government has "gained trust of the people" with the passage of the bill in both Houses of Parliament.

"It's natural that the one who works hard also reaps the dividend. This bill will ensure that the NDA comes back to power at the Centre with two-third majority. Narendra Modiji will become Prime Minister and complete his unfinished work," Paswan, whose Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is an NDA partner, told reporters.

The government brought this bill almost a month after it lost the Assembly polls in the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Simmering anger among the BJP's traditional vote base of upper castes towards the saffron party's perceived pro-Dalit tilt was stated as one of the reasons why it suffered the electoral reverses. The economically weaker sections quota gamble is being read as some sort of a balancing act by the BJP to win back its traditional voters.

Congress, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and other Opposition parties, though supported the bill, also slammed the Modi government for bringing the bill "in a haste", and dubbed the move as "a political gimmick" of the ruling NDA ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in next few months.

Some of the other backward classes (OBC) parties also demanded "jiski jitni hissedari, uski utni bhaagidari" seeking reservation in proportion to population of communities concerned.

When asked, Paswan refused to make any comment on the caste-census report which is lying with the central government.

"The passage of the bill has spread happiness among the economically weaker sections in the upper caste. It has rendered social justice to the EWS in the upper caste. Opposition wants people to remain divided on the lines of caste just for their political gain," he said.

Paswan said that the passage of the bill would create "a division" in the mahagathbandhan (grand alliance of Opposition) in Bihar, particularly in Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

RJD leaders like Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Jagdanand Singh, who come from the upper castes, would now find it difficult to woo voters, he added.