Sharad Pawar seeks caste census to rationalise quota quantum


Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar has said that a caste census should be held to collect empirical data to rationalise quantum of reservations. While the Centre did not seem interested, there will be pressure from within BJP for it, he said.

“BJP MP Sanghamitra Maurya asked for a caste census in the House, but the minister concerned did not give an answer. Within the BJP, there are sections that want it. It may be one or two MPs today, but after a few days, it will go up to 20, and then may be 200,” he said. Addressing a news conference on Monday, Pawar said that the recent amendment to the Constitution to restore power to states to notify their own list of OBCs was not of any use as there was a reservation ceiling of 50%.

“The Centre’s amendment is of no use, the Supreme Court has already put a cap on reservations. In Maharashtra, we already have 62% reservation. The Centre’s amendment does not benefit any community or state as long as the Supreme Court order on the 50% cap stands,” Pawar said. The ceiling on the quantum of reservation in government jobs and education institutions can be raised only if there is empirical data on OBCs, he said and a caste census was needed for that, he said. “Only then could we do something for OBC communities… If we come to power with a two-thirds majority, we will do it,” he said, adding: “They brought in a Constitution amendment half-heartedly; it serves no purpose with the 50% cap on states.”


Speaking on the recent fracas in Parliament, Pawar alleged the Modi governemnt ‘lowered Parliament’s prestige’ by getting marshals to ‘attack’ opposition MPs. “In my entire parliamentary career, I have seen only five to 10 marshals in the House at a time. However, I saw 30 to 40 marshals in the House for the first time, recently. I saw women MPs pushed and shoved. What happened in Parliament was bad for democracy and the ruling party’s action will erode people’s trust in Parliament.” Pawar said.


Pawar also raised the issue of Pegasus phone tapping controversy and said three opposition leaders — P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi — have ‘deep understanding’ of the subject and, hence, ‘this is my view that for credibility’s sake one of them should be in the Supreme Court-appointed committee’. He added: “The defence ministry has claimed that it has not ordered Pegasus. It has to be true because they don’t do all this. For this (snooping), you have RAW, home ministry, security adviser, they could have been doing this.”


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