Two Dalit ministers of the Union government on Tuesday waded into the row over Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat's pitch for a dialogue on reservation, saying there is no need for any debate even as Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused the Hindutva organisation of having "dangerous intentions".
Priyanka Gandhi said the real target of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the RSS, the saffron party's ideological mentor, is social justice and that Bhagwat's advocacy of a debate on reservation is merely an "excuse".
"The confidence of the RSS is high and intentions are dangerous. At a time when the BJP government is throttling pro-people laws, the RSS has also raised the issue of debate on reservation," she said in a tweet in Hindi.
"Debate is just an excuse, the real target of the RSS-BJP is social justice," she said.
"Will you allow this to happen," the Congress general secretary asked the people of the country.
Replying to a question, Bhagwat had on Sunday said there should be a conversation in a harmonious atmosphere between those in favour of reservation and those against it, sparking a row as opposition parties said that it highlighted the Hindutva organisation's "anti-reservation" mindset.
On Tuesday, Union ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Ramdas Athawale, Dalit allies of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, asserted that the matter of reservation is already settled and that there is no need for any debate on it.
However, both leaders defended the RSS, saying it has already clarified that it supports reservation.
"Whatever Mohan Bhagwatji had said, the RSS has clarified it. I want to assure the Dalits of this country that there is no question of a debate or rethinking on the issue of reservation.
"It is a constitutional right and no one can take it away from Dalits. The Narendra Modi government should not be perceived as anti-Dalit," Republican Party of India chief Athawale said at a press conference in Kolkata.
Echoing similar sentiments, Paswan told reporters in Delhi that there is no need for a debate on the matter.
"Reservation is a constitutional right and this right was the result of the Poona Pact between Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar. Thus, it is not a debatable issue," the Lok Janshakti Party president said.
Noting that quota was earlier limited to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, he said the Modi government has extended the benefits to the economically backward upper castes as well.
Paswan accused the opposition parties of trying to create confusion over Bhagwat's statement.
"What they are saying is absolutely baseless," he said, adding that the opposition had tried to make reservation an issue even during the Lok Sabha polls, but had "failed".
The RSS had on Monday dismissed the row over its chief's remarks on quota as "unnecessary" and asserted that Bhagwat had merely highlighted the importance of resolving all issues in the society through a cordial dialogue while asking everyone to exchange views on a sensitive issue like reservation.
The organisation, it added, fully supports reservation.