New Delhi, Sep 21: Under attack over RSS chief's call for a reconsideration of quotas, BJP today distanced itself from its ideological mentor, insisting it was against any such review as it sought to stave off Lalu Prasad's attempts to rally the backwards around in high-stake Bihar polls following Mohan Bhagwat's remarks.
As the RJD chief attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wondering if he will finish reservations "at his master Bhagwat's bidding," BJP said it respected 100 per cent the reservation rights of SCs, STs and other backward castes as it was essential for their social and economic development and empowerment.
"It is BJP's firm committment since Jan Sangh days that reservation is essential for social and economic development and empowerment of SCs, STs, backward and extremely backward castes. BJP is not in favour of any reconsideration of reservation being extended to these groups," senior party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told a press conference.
Bhagwat's pitch for a review of reservation policy has prompted the alliance of Nitish Kumar and Prasad to mount a counter attack on the BJP-led NDA, which is trying to dent the grand alliance' strong backward castes support base.
Prasad, also Union Communications Minister, said a discussion was welcome on what further can be done for the poor and "left over" backward communities who have not been able to reap benefits of development, while insisting that BJP was all for the existing benefits to continue.
"BJP indeed is very clear and very categorial that there is no need to reconsider reservation nor does BJP support it (such demand)," he said.
In an interview to RSS mouthpiece Organiser, Bhagwat had pitched for a review of the reservation policy, contending it has been used for political ends and suggesting setting up of an apolitical committee to examine who needs the facility and for how long.
BJP also fielded its general secretary in charge of Bihar Bhupender Yadav to take on Lalu. Yadav said Lalu should first answer what benefits the backward castes, in whose name he has "practised" his politics, got in the 15-year rule of RJD in Bihar.
"What Lalu calls 'mandal raj' is seen as "jungle raj" by people of Bihar and he should tell how many schools and hospitals he had made for these communities," Yadav said.
Lalu had attacked BJP in a series of tweets earlier in the day.
"The so-called tea seller and recently-turned backward (Narendra) Modi should tell if he will finish reservations at his master (Mohan) Bhagwat's bidding," he said.
"You talk of doing away with reservation, we will increase it in proportion to the population. If you have drunk your mother's milk (mai ka doodh), then have it scrapped, each would know his strength," he said in another tweet.