India Education
UPA-Left leaders for quotas from this academic session
Apr 6, 2007 - 11:11:02 PM

New Delhi, April 6 - Leaders of the ruling United Progressive Alliance - and its Left allies Friday reiterated their commitment to enforcing quotas for students from backward classes in elite educational institutions from this academic session itself.

Meeting at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence Friday evening, the leaders asked the government to return to the Supreme Court to seek vacation of the March 29 stay enforced by an apex court bench on reservation for Other Backward Classes - students in institutes of higher learning.

Apart from Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and union Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh were also present. The Left was represented by Communist Party of India-Marxist politbureau member Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India national secretary D. Raja and Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Abani Roy.

Others present included Rashtriya Janata Dal - chief Lalu Prasad and his lieutenant Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Lok Janshakti Party - chief Ram Vilas Paswan, DMK leader T.R. Baalu and PMK's Ambumani Ramadoss.

Already, most political parties, including the Left, had reacted to the court's stay on quotas and asked the government to take immediate steps to get it vacated.

Some within the UPA such as LJP chief and union Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had demanded a census of castes to determine the contentious question of the numerical strength of the backward castes in India.

The court on March 29 had stayed the quotas questioning the 1931 census as the basis for determining the numerical strength of the OBC population in the country.

Paswan had also demanded setting up of an 'Indian Judicial Services Commission' with the requisite quota of the scheduled castes and backwards.

A similar demand for caste-based census was also made by RJD deputy leader in parliament Devendra Prasad Yadav. He also demanded that it be 'held within three months and conclude before August, to prevent the OBC students from being denied reservations in admission to institutes of higher learning and suffering because of the current stay'.

Within the Congress there are two views. A section is opposed to any caste-based census while remaining committed to OBC reservation, and the others feel that it should not go too far in confronting the judiciary. The Congress may find support in its opposition to caste-based census from the Left at an all-party meeting likely to be held later, and even from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

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