Union minister Ramdas Athawale today favoured providing reservations to other castes without disturbing the existing SC and ST quotas. "We say that, without touching the reservation of SC, ST, BC, if you give 25 per cent for others, a good decision would go in whole of India," the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment told reporters here. Creamy layer method can be applied when quotas are given to other communities, he said. Observing that reservations, as per existing guidelines, are provided on the basis of social backwardness, the Dalit leader said changes in existing laws can be considered to accommodate communities on the basis of economic backwardness. Referring to the agitations of Patidars in Gujarat, Jats in northern states and others, he said such demands are coming up in various states. He recalled that he had supported quotas for Marathas. Athawale, who heads the Republican Party of India (A) in Maharashtra, said he had expressed his views in the NDA meeting. Ruling out repealing the legislation on prevention of atrocities on SCs and STs, Athawale, however, said changes in the law could be considered to prevent its misuse. "....in Maharashtra, on Atrocities Act, that it should be abrogated, changes should be made in it, but, as minister of the concerned, what I say is that, my department handles atrocities act; whatever one may demand, atrocities act will not be cancelled. If there is a demand for changes in it, it can be considered. It can be tried to see that there is no misuse in it," he said. Athawale, who attended a seminar in Osmania University here on 'Ambedkar and Constitutionalism' referred to the recent incidents at Koregaon Bhima in Maharashtra and said the "reply" was given to attacks on Dalits. "I said, we don't attack anybody. We are in minority. Do we continue to take the attacks? I said, if there are attacks on us, enlightenment has come in Babasaheb Ambedkar's movement. We were taught that you (Dalits) don't commit any atrocity ('atyachar') on anybody. However, if somebody commits atrocity on you, you have to reply. "We said, reply. Reply means, do we sit taking the attacks? But, that conflict is not needed. What I meant to say was that conflict is not needed in both (sections)," he told reporters later. He said both sections need to come together. In the context of Koregaon-Bhima caste clashes in which one person was killed in Pune district on January 1, he said all sections need to work for avoiding conflicts. The Indian Army in Pune offers salute on January 1 every year to the martyrs of the Koregaon Bhima battle that took place 200 years ago. "This year, 200 years were completed. About three-four lakh people came there. Some Maratha organisations planned and attacked people coming there.
Vehicles were smashed. Dalit community came on streets and there was a bandh in Maharashtra on January 2 and 3... All should see that there is no conflict," he said. Replying to a query, Athawale said the present Constitution should not be changed and that amendments can be made if necessary. "Somebody is demanding changing the Constitution. But, Constitution must not be changed. Because, Preamble of the Constitution, anybody cannot change the Constitution. But, you want to change the law...near about 120 amendments are there in the Constitution. If you want to amend any law, there is a provision. But, there is no necessity to change the whole Constitution," he said. In his address to the seminar earlier, he hailed the Constitution and recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also praised it. "Babasaheb Ambedkar's Constitution is supporting the 125 crore people. This Constitution is revolutionary. Indian democracy is the best democracy. Narendra Modi said that had there not been the Constitution of Babasaheb Ambedkar I couldn't have become the Prime Minister," he said. The NDA government follows the philosophy of Babasaheb Ambedkar, he said. "Those who want to run the government, they must back the Indian Constitution. Those peoples who don't like Indian Constitution, they cannot live in India, they want to go out from India...," he said. Athawale, who held a meeting with government officials on issues related to his ministry, said his party favoured giving reservations in promotions in government in the wake of a court judgement against such promotions. The issue was raised in the meeting of ruling NDA, he added.
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