Chandigarh: Senior Congress leader Amarinder Singh on Monday strongly favoured extending the benefits of reservation to economically weaker sections among the general category, besides those already getting it.
Reacting to frequent agitations that usually turn violent like the current one in Haryana, Punjab Congress Chief Amarinder said, "the time has come that the economically weak and underprivileged from the general categories irrespective of the caste or community they belong to are also provided the reservation benefits."
At the same time, he clarified, "this does not mean making the economy the only criterion for the reservations as the social and caste backwardness cannot be overlooked and those getting the benefits on caste basis as enshrined in our constitution must continue to get these".
"We cannot afford to shut our eyes on the problem which needs to be recognised and solved", he observed while pointing out how the demands for reservations by other castes like the Gujjars in Rajasthan and the Patels in Gujarat and now the Jats in Haryana are growing day by day.
He said during his recent interactions with the youth and students in colleges and universities across Punjab, there has been a consistent demand for extending benefit of reservation to the economically weaker sections and underprivileged from the general categories also.
He said it was a completely fair and justified demand which needs to be addressed and considered seriously.
Referring to the ongoing agitation by the Jats in Haryana, he said it was the outcome of the frustration of people who think that they were being denied their rightful due.
"And this frustration is not restricted to the Jats in Haryana alone", he disclosed while adding, it is same everywhere including Punjab, which can also burst anytime.
Spelling out the All India Jat Mahasabha stand on the issue, Amarinder, who is also its president, said, the Mahasabha was demanding reservations only for the economically weaker sections among the Jats owning less than four acres of land and not for the creamy layer.
"There are farmers who own even less than one acre of land and they cannot make their both ends meet and the Mahasabha is asking for reservations within the OBC category for the people who own less than four acres of land and not for the ones like Badal or me", he clarified.