The BJP was in favour of continuing with reservations for Dalits "as long as" caste-based social inequality remains in the society, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi asserted today. "Had there been no reservations for the dalits in Lok Sabha and state assemblies, they would have been deprived of representation in these bodies. Our society has undergone huge changes in the last 80-90 years yet we can not deny that caste-based inequality still exists", he said here at a function organised on the death anniversary of Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar. "We can not bring social harmony by opposing reservations. It would be an illusion to think, looking at a few political leaders and bureaucrats, that Scheduled Castes are now, by and large, well off", the deputy chief minister said. "Thus the BJP is in favour of continuing with reservations for as long as caste-based inequality remains.
The onus is on the higher castes to create an environment where dalits have equal opportunities", he said. Sushil Modi also said that the party was "in support of reservation in promotions which is why the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had brought in the 85th amendment to the Constitution. Unfortunately, it was challenged before the Supreme Court which laid down conditions that were too difficult to fulfil". "Our commitment to reservation in promotions was evident in Bihar as well where we came to power in 2005 and brought in the provision which was struck down by the Patna High Court. The matter is now pending before the Apex Court", he said. The deputy chief minister also charged Congress and Lalu Prasad's RJD, which shared power in the state for long, of having "deprived the dalits of their right granted by the Constitution by holding panchayat polls without reserving seats for the Scheduled Castes". "When we came to power we gave reservations in civic bodies and panchayats to dalits. As a result, we have a large number of mukhiyas from among the Scheduled Castes. Our pro-dalit stance is also reflected in the fact that Lalu Prasad hardly has a prominent dalit leader with him while we have allies like (Union minister) Ram Vilas Paswan and (former CM) Jitan Ram Manjhi", he added.