In an apparent effort at damage control, the BJP on Monday distanced itself from RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's reported remark over reconsideration of quotas, even as the RSS clarified that its chief had not called for an end to quotas in education and jobs.
Faced with criticism, the BJP said it does not favour reconsideration of the reservation policy, as even during the Jana Sangh days, the idea of constitutional reservation was being firmly supported.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the offshoot of the erstwhile Jana Sangh (1951-1977), a political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
"The BJP firmly believes that reservation is important for the social, education and economic development of the SC, ST, OBC, backward and extremely backward classes. The BJP is not in favour of any reconsideration of these constitutional provisions," the party said in a statement.
The statement came in the wake of RSS chief Bhagwat's reported remarks that there should be a review of the reservation policy.
"Right from the day of its inception and even before the Jana Sangh days, the BJP very firmly supported the constitutional reservation," the statement added.
However, the BJP also made it apparent that it was of the view that if further measures were suggested for those who were economically and socially backward, the same was welcome.
Bhagwat on Sunday had reportedly pitched for a review of the reservation policy, contending it had been used for political ends and suggested setting up a committee to examine who needs the facility and till when.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also clarified that the BJP was not in favour of reconsidering the reservation policy.
He, however, said there should be a debate on how to extend the benefit of the reservation to those poor and backwards who have been left out.
The BJP's ideological mentor RSS also clarified on Monday that Bhagwat had not called for an end to quotas in education and jobs.
It sought to suggest that Bhagwat's remarks in an interview were misunderstood.
"Bhagwat ji has not commented on the reservation, which different weaker sections of the society are enjoying," RSS chief spokesman Manmohan Vaidya said in a statement.
"Instead, he had said that everybody should discuss (the issue so) that benefits of reservation should reach all weaker sections of the society as envisaged by the constitution makers.
"The subject of the interview was integral humanism, not reservation," the statement added.
"If we would have implemented this policy as envisaged by the constitution makers instead of doing politics over it, then the present situation would not have arrived," Bhagwat had said.
On Monday, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad dared the RSS and the BJP to end education and job quotas.
"I challenge the RSS and the BJP to end reservations," the former Bihar chief minister posted on Twitter.
Lalu Prasad said 80 percent of the country's population was made up of Dalits and people from backward classes who would oppose any attempt to do away with reservation.
"The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) is talking about ending reservations and we are talking about increasing it on the basis of the population," he said.