Patna, Sep 11: The RJD Tuesday accused the NDA government of "masterminding" the recent nationwide protest against amendment to the SC/ST Act to drive a wedge between the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes to fulfil the "RSS agenda" of reinforcing the varna system.
At a press conference in Patna after a meeting of senior party leaders, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav demanded that the SC/ST Act be included in the ninth schedule of the Constitution and the caste census data be made public by the Narendra Modi government.
"Bharat Bandh against the amendment to the SC/ST Act was masterminded by the BJP-RSS combine. It was a clever attempt to drive a wedge between the SC/ST and the OBC groups which is being understood by both the social segments," Yadav said.
The comment by the leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly came amid reports in a section of media that the shutdown on September 6 received support from upper castes and OBCs who, the reports said, are anxious over the law's misuse. Yadav also said by passing a bill in Parliament the NDA government reversed the dilution of the SC/ST Act, but it left scope for tinkering in future.
"The strategy is in keeping with the RSS agenda of reinforcing the varna system wherein the SC/ST and the OBC groups shall have to live in a state of subjugation," he alleged.
The former Bihar Deputy chief minister said the legislation should be included in the ninth schedule of the Constitution to prvent any further tinkering with the law.
"Tamil Nadu had included its reservation law in the schedule long back. If the BJP-led NDA has any real concern for the weaker sections it should accept this demand."
Asked whether his party was in favour of extending the benefit of reservations to the poor among the upper castes, Yadav, the declared chief ministerial candidate of the RJD in the next assembly polls, evaded a direct reply.
"We demand that first of all, the report of the caste census be made public. We ought to know the exact social, economic and educational status of the respective caste groups. At present, OBCs have not received the full benefit of the 27 per cent reservation to which they are entitled. This is a fact acknowledged by the Centre in Parliament," he claimed.
The RJD leader took strong exception to the statement made by Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday when he blamed the death of a two-year-old girl in Jehanabad district on the Bharat Bandh called against soaring fuel prices.
"It was the height of brazenness on Prasad's part. He did not even pay heed to what the local administration had to say," Yadav said.
The district administration had clarified that the girl died because of her father's inability to find a vehicle in time to take her to a hospital, which could carry the child from her remote village to the Jehanabad Sadar hospital.
The RJD meeting was held at the residence of Yadav's mother Rabri Devi, party vice-president and former chief minister. RJD vice-presidents Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Shivanand Tiwary, senior leader Jagadanand Singh and national spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha attended the party meeting.