Athawale seeks 25 pc reservation for upper caste poor

Bhubaneswar, Sep 20 (PTI) Seeking 25 per centreservation for upper caste poor, dalit leader and UnionMinister Ramdas Athawale today said the present ceiling of 50per cent should be raised for this additional quota for whichthe Constitution might be amended. "I am in favour of providing 25 per cent reservationfor the economically backward sections belonging to uppercaste from the 50 per cent left for general people," theMinister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment toldreporters here. He said the present maximum quota of 50 per centshould be increased to 75 per cent in order to accommodateeconomically backward classes belonging to various categoriesincluding Gujjars, Patels, Rajputs, Marathas, Jats andBrahmins. "In order to increase the quantum of reservation beyondthe existing quota for SC, ST and OBCs, the Constitutionshould be amended to avoid any legal hurdle," he said. Noting that Tamil Nadu already provides 69 per centreservation, Athawale said economically backward people fromupper castes should be accommodated in the proposed additional25 per cent quota. He asserted that the extra quota wouldnot affect SCs, STs and dalits. Strongly batting for inter-caste marriages, Athawalesaid it should be encouraged in a big way and states shouldalso provide attractive incentives to those opting for this. "It would not only bring down atrocities on dalits andtribals but also put an end to casteism in due course," hesaid. Asking Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to set anexample, the union minister said Patnaik should announce thatthe districts recording high inter-caste marriages would getreward of Rs 20 crore to Rs 25 crore. Youths opting for intercaste marriage should also be promised jobs, he said. Stating that atrocities on dalits had increased andlaw alone cannot prevent it, he said people should worktogether to bring about social changes by promotinginter-caste marriage. On various welfare measures of the centre for thedisadvantaged sections, the union minister said that thescholarship being given to SC, ST and OBC students at presentwas inadequate and the union government was considering stepsto increase the amount substantially. "Around 68 lakh ST and SC and 72 lakh OBC students arenow getting scholarships from the centre and there is aproposal to raise the budget on this head," he said. Emphasising that the NDA government is working for thedisabled people, Athawale said a proposal to increase theamount of pension given to the handicapped was also underserious consideration of the centre. PTI SKN PR CHTPS

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