27/10/2015 1:09 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Scheduled Castes Panel Chief Dubs RSS And BJP As ‘Anti-Dalit'

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
AMRITSAR, INDIA - MAY 3: Chairman National Commission for Schedule Castes PL Punia pays obeisance at Golden Temple on May 3 2015 in Amritsar, India. Punia on Saturday visited Moga civil hospital where the mother of the teenage girl, who was molested and thrown off a moving bus belonging to the ruling Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal Family. (Photo by Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- In an interview to The Hindu, Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, P.L. Punia, has dubbed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat as "anti-Dalit."

Last month, Bhagwat kicked up a firestorm when he suggested that quotas needed to reassessed.

While holding the constitutional position of the NCSC chief, Punia is also a Dalit leader of the Congress Party, and a Rajya Sabha lawmaker. “Mr. Bhagwat has said this two-three times. The RSS and the BJP are anti-Dalit and anti-reservation," Punia said.

"They [the government] have no commitment to the pending Bill on reservation in promotion, too. The constitutional amendment Bill is pending, why don’t they push for it,” he said.

In his conversation with The Hindu, Punia said that Bhagwat had not retracted his position, and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has not taken exception to it.

"He (Bhagwat) made no clarification. And the BJP hasn’t said once that it disagrees with him — they have just said they agree with the present policy," he said.

On the issue of the "creamy layer," Punia said that the Supreme Court had confined its application to the Other Backward Castes (OBCs).

"The creamy layer concept was discussed in detail by the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case. It said creamy layer exclusion would apply only in relation to OBCs," he said. "So, legally speaking, the SCs are a special class and different from OBCs,” he said. “But so far as my personal opinion is concerned, I don’t have a problem in the exclusion of the very well-to-do, who have benefited from the reservation in the past.”

Rejecting Punia's remarks, BJP spokesperson Bizay Sonkar Shastri questioned whether he was speaking as the "SC Commission chief or a Congress spokesperson," The Hindu reported.

“The PM has made it clear that none can finish quotas till he lives. Our party chief Amit Shah has also upheld quotas as they exist. Even the RSS chief had said these may continue for a 100 years. Mr. Punia’s comments are motivated,” he said.

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