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Left back UPA reservation plan, but ask details

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 9: Solidly backing the UPA government's move to provide reservation for other backward classes (OBCs) in professional institutions, the Left parties today cautioned the Centre that ''certain forces'' might exploit the issue for their political ends.

In a show of unanimity with the UPA, the CPI, CPI(M) and RSP said the proposed plan, which could trigger a resistance similar to the one witnessed during the Mandal agitation, was acceptable as Parliament had already passed an amendment to the effect during its winter session.

The Manmohan Singh government proposes to reserve another 27 per cent seats in IIMs, IITs and central universities for the OBCs, taking the overall percentage of reservation to 49.5, against a constitutional limit of 50 per cent.

The move has drawn opposition from the students and the teaching commmunity, who say frustration over lower opportunities in the country coupled with aggressive marketing by some European countries would see a dramatic rise in the number of students travelling to the US, UK and Australia.

CPI leaders A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi said the government had to come out with the details of the action. ''We are not against raising the upper limit (of reservation) as any affirmative action would help the backward classes, even as it is bound to be resisted by those who enjoy caste superiority in higher education.'' Recalling the fierce reactions to implementation of the Mandal report, the CPI leaders said, ''social reality cannot be changed by showing non-genuine anger''.

CPI(M) veteran and Polit Bureau member M K Pandhey said his party supported the move as it would help the downtrodden.

But party's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Salim Mohammad termed the move ''politically motivated'' and having been ''leaked'' when the process of Assembly polls had already set in motion.

RSP leader Abani Roy said, ''We are backing it as all political parties supported the amendment in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. But the ideal thing will be to increase the number of seats so that the others are also not affected.'' Other desirable initiatives, he said, could be taken to improve the social and economic development of the backward classes at the grassroots level. Equal emphasis should be given to primary education, Mr Roy added.

However, on the possible ''re-alignment of forces'' after the assembly polls with suggestions in the media that the Congress might not fare well, the parties seemed to be divided.

While Mr Bardhan and Mr Faizi said even if the Congress fared badly, their party would not rock the boat at the Centre as these would not change the political scenario in the country, Mr Pandhey and Mr Salim foresaw the possibility of such a re-alignment but refused to call it the ''third front''.

''There is no doubt that the Congress will also lose in Tamil Nadu and Asom,'' Mr Pandhey said, adding that some sort of re-alignment of political forces could not be ruled out, but what its shape would be could not be described now. ''We are developing a relationship with the non-Congress parties,'' the CPI(M) veteran added.

The RSP leader stressed on the need for the emergence of a third front saying ''this is necessary in the country's interest''.

''The initative must come from the Left itself as the regional parties cannot accomplish this task,'' Mr Roy added.


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