Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi's remarks on ending caste-based reservations and seeking a quota based on economic criteria created a stir on Wednesday, with the Samajwadi Party stoutly opposing the proposal and the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiromani Akali Dam questioning its timing.
SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said, "By suggesting replacing the caste-based quota system with economic criteria, the Congress is trying to end the system of social justice in the country."
At a time when quota is the buzzword in politics, senior Congress leader Dwivedi has called for an end to reservation on caste lines and urged party leader Rahul Gandhi to introduce a quota for financially weaker sections, bringing all communities under its ambit.
"This (reservation on caste lines) should have come to an end. It has not happened so far because vested interests have gotten into the process," Dwivedi has said.
Advocating the continuation of the current system, Yadav said, "If a person is a millionaire but he belongs to a Scheduled Caste or Other Backward Classes, he cannot get the respect from society which a poor person from upper caste gets. Whatever the present system is, it should continue."
Akali Dal Member of Parliament Harsimrat Kaur Badal questioned the timing of the move.
"Why such a move at this time? It is a very good idea but according to me, anything that is moved by the Congress now has only one agenda. They are targeting a particular group for vote-bank politics. They had 10 years and they could have done a lot, but they did nothing," she said.
The BJP also chose to question the timing of the move, saying the "revolutionary idea" should have been introduced long ago.
"We want progress of all sections of society. But why did this revolutionary idea came to a Congress leader's mind when the elections are round the corner? There was enough time earlier and the issue could have been debated on a national platform," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Without rejecting the idea, he said, "We are always in favour giving opportunity for progress to whoever is economically or socially backward. There is a need for economic engineering as well as social engineering, but Congress leaders always come up with such ideas during the elections."
Image: A protest against caste-based reservations