Bhupender Yadav: ‘Committed to make inclusive society with affirmative action’

Bhupender Yadav said " It’s a constitutional issue. We are committed to bring socially and educationally backward communities forward."

Union Minister for Labour and Employment, and for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav on Monday took out a ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’ in Gurgaon to introduce himself to the people. During the march, the BJP leader spoke to Liz Mathew about the caste census — a demand for which has come from the Opposition, parties allied to the ruling NDA, and even his own partymen. Excerpts:

You have been talking about the steps taken by the government to support the OBC people. But there has been a demand even from your own party for a caste-based census.

It’s an issue that the concerned ministry has to take so many things into account. It’s an issue that we have to think about. No decision has been taken yet.

There is also a demand that the cap on quota should be removed. Is the party considering it?

The Supreme Court has already fixed the 50 per cent quota. See, the OBCs did not get reservation till 1990. The NCBC [National Commission for Backward Classes] did not have constitutional status till we did it. We have reserved 27 per cent seats for OBC children in 14 lakh Kendriya Vidyalayas, which benefits 4,00,00 students. We have provided a quota for them in NEET exams, which has been a long-term demand. We have increased the limit of the creamy layer. This is the only government that came up with a social economical inclusive programme and gave it last mile delivery.

But BJP leaders also said that the state governments should approach the court for removing the cap on quotas…

It’s a constitutional issue. We are committed to bring socially and educationally backward communities forward. We have provided reservation for those who were lagging behind due to the economic situation. Reservation is an affirmative action of this government and we are committed to make an inclusive society with affirmative actions.

But it comes at a time when there are voices even from the RSS to review quota policies. BJP leaders have said this may become an election issue.

Our government is conscious of these issues and our full attention is on social inclusiveness. We are committed to reach the benefits of every government programme to every community.

You have attacked the Opposition during your speeches in the Jan Ashirwad Yatra. Is your march meant to “expose” the Opposition?

It’s a fact that the Opposition did not allow us to run Parliament and introduce Bills in order. [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi ji has formed a government that is inclusive of Dalits, backwards, tribals and women. It’s a tradition that the PM introduces his ministers in Parliament. In the House, the Opposition let the House run only when they wanted. They discussed Covid, let the OBC Bill pass and when they wanted to seek a division, they did that too. But they did not let the government put its business.

People should know this truth. You cannot hold democracy to ransom, it has to run with consensus and discussions.

The fact that the Opposition agreed for the OBC bill shows that there were informal talks. The private member’s Bill is not even a government business, but the Opposition has stolen the rights of members on that too. It was completely an autocratic behaviour of the Opposition.

But the Opposition says this government’s record on sending Bills to Parliamentary panels is very poor.

For sending Bills to the select committee, you need to have discussions. Also, ordinances have an urgency when it comes to Parliament business. The Opposition could bring amendments – there were occasions in Rajya Sabha, despite the majority, that the government had agreed for amendments suggested by the Opposition.

There are two types of Bills — for amendments and for policy issues. From 2014-2019, more Bills went to select committees than during the UPA.

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