UPA govt ''deviating'' from Constitution: Advani

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Kochi, Apr 26: Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani today accused the UPA government of ''two major deviations from the Constitution'' in proposing reservation on religious grounds and including Dalit Christians and Muslims in the ambit of SC/ST reservation.

Inaugurating a meeting of Kerala state SC/ST leaders, organised by the state unit of the BJP here, Mr Advani said the makers of the Indian Constitution had, after due deliberation, decided against reservation on communal grounds. ''With the bad experience of separate electorates which ultimately resulted in the partition of the country, the framers of the Constitution had decided against reservation on the basis of religion or community,''he claimed. Both Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel had described as ''historic'' the decision of the Constituent Assembly that there would be no reservation on religious basis in Independent India, the senior BJP leader said.

Accusing the UPA government of ''violating the memory of the makers of the Constitution,'' Mr Advani observed that all previous Union governments, including those of the Congress, had accepted this wisdom of the Constituent Assembly.'' Only the present government, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and backed by the Left parties, had floated the idea of reservation on religious basis, he claimed.

In another major deviation, the Central government was also proposing to extend the benefit of SC/ST reservation to Dalit Christians and Muslims even though these religions did not recognise caste and claimed to treat all people equally, he said.

Stating that the BJP understood the ''pain and anguish'' of the scheduled castes at the ''additional burden'' proposed to be thrust on them by the UPA, Mr Advani said ''I have come here to identify myself with you. Not only the BJP but even the Constitution makers are with you.'' Earlier, some of the leaders of 35 SC/ST organisations attending meeting handed over memoranda to Mr Advani on the issue.

Also present on the occasion were BJP All-India Secretary Balbir Punj, state party president P K Krishna Das, 'SC/ST Samvarana Samrakshana Prakshobhana Samiti' general convenor, P M Velayudhan and Samiti chairman M K Kunjol.

Mr Advani, who arrived here this afternoon for a two-day visit to Kerala and Tamil Nadu, later left for Kottayam by helicopter to attend a function of the Marathoma Church.

UNI

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