Congress provided quotas to minorities but not on basis of religion: Jairam

Patna: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Sunday asserted that reservations have been provided to certain sections of minority communities, in states ruled by it, “on the ground of social and economic backwardness.”

Addressing a press conference at the Sadaqat Ashram here, the BPCC headquarters, Ramesh clarified that no quotas have been provided “on the basis of religion” in states like Karnataka.

“We abide by the Constitution, which does not allow the grant of reservations and citizenship on the basis of religion. It is the BJP which has violated the Constitution through CAA, which is nothing but a grant of citizenship along religious lines. The law has, therefore, been challenged in court,” the AICC general secretary said.

Ramesh was responding to queries on allegations by BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that Congress was snatching away quotas meant for OBCs and Dalits and diverting these to its own “vote bank” of Muslims.

Ramesh alleged that Modi was “making one false statement after another” to divert public attention from real issues and claimed, “the ground is slipping from under his feet. There is desperation out of realisation that he is an outgoing (nivartman) prime minister.”

On the other hand, he claimed, the Congress-led INDIA bloc was on its way to secure “a decisive mandate” in the Lok Sabha polls, “just like in 2004, when we had bounced back after losses in state assembly elections and those who felt BJP then led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee could not be defeated.”

Ramesh charged Modi with “making false claims about our manifesto” and challenged him to “break his silence on what is the BJP’s stand with regard to the Congress’ promises of a caste census, waiver of farmers’ debt and a legally guaranteed MSP.”

He alleged that the BJP, since its inception, has been “against the Constitution drafted by Babasaheb Ambedkar” and claimed that its parent body, the RSShad come out with an article in its mouthpiece advocating a “Manuvadi samvidhan.”

On the other hand, he claimed, the Congress has always been committed to social justice and cited the example of 69 percent quotas given to deprived sections in Tamil Nadu, which was legally secured by getting added to the ninth schedule of the Constitution when PV Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister and former party president Sitaram Keshri held the social welfare portfolio.

“Congress is also committed to scrapping the 50 percent cap on reservations by way of a constitutional amendment. We would like the PM to disclose whether or not he is in favour of such a move,” said Ramesh.

The Congress leader also trained his guns at Modi on the issue of national security, accusing him of having given “a clean chit” to China on the issue of reported incursions along the bordering areas.

“We are heading for the fifth phase of elections. A majority of the country’s electorate has already voted. Based on our feedback, we can say the BJP’s strength will be reduced to half in the west and the east, while in the south it will be saaf (wiped out),” claimed Ramesh.