Govt should talk to students opposing reservation: V P Singh
New Delhi, Apr 13 (UNI) Former Prime Minister V P Singh today said the Government should talk to students opposed to the plan to reserve 27 per cent of the seats in centres of higher education for the Other Backward Castes (OBCs).
''We did it when we were in power. I believe this Government too should talk to such students,'' he told reporters here.
Mr Singh, who had witnessed widespread students protests as Prime Minister when the Mandal Commission recommendations were introduced in the early 1990s, however, sounded pessimistic about the efficacy of the latest Government move in helping the truly backwards.
''Mr Arjun Singh has merely kicked the door of the elite.
After all, how many children of poor parents make it to the IITs and IIMs. Let's hope some benefit would accrue to the poor,'' he said.
He regretted that those opposed to reservation for the poor do not raise their voice whenever education fees was increased.
''Not one such voice is heard when fees charged from students is increased,'' he said.
Mr Singh said the fact that the Congress-led UPA Government was now pushing reservation and all other major parties supported the move showed that he stood vindicated on the issue.
Talking of centuries-old caste-based discrimination and the Constitutional mandate to create a more egalitarian society, he pointed out that he had merely carried forward as Prime Minister a process that was started by his predecessors, starting from Jawaharlal Nehru.
''The foundation was laid and the building walls already constructed. I got the roof laid. The Supreme Court ensured that 'grah pravesh' (homecoming) is done. Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee found the house too small and ordered that more rooms be constructed. Now Mr Arjun Singh has brought in some furniture,'' he said on a figurative note.
He also recited one of his poems to depict the irony of the protests that he witnessed as Prime Minister. ''Meri khata itni haseen/Ki use bahuton ne dohraya/Yoon to khatawaar sabhi/Par sajawaar main hoon'' (Such a beautiful crime I committed/So many others repeated it/Though all have committed the crime/Yet I alone will be punished).
Mr Singh smiled broadly when asked about the fleeting tone of regret in his poem. ''Its not because of any feeling of guilt'' (for having introduced the Mandal report), he said. ''A poet looks from all possible angles''.
The former PM had called the press meet to condole the deaths in the fire tragedy in Meerut. He expressed outrage at the way the district administration handled the situation, especially the ''scant respect it showed to the dead'' by using bulldozers to remove the debris.
UNI VN RP PM2054