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Mamata for poor quota

New Delhi, Dec. 17: Mamata Banerjee today demanded reservation for the economically backward classes and lashed out at the government’s proposed cash transfer scheme before stepping inside Parliament where she socialised with leaders of different parties, mainly the BJP.

“In my state, we are planning to give reservation to economically backward classes… I cannot see one set of people will get and the other will not. So I want special provisions for the economically backward,” the Bengal chief minister said in reply to a question on reserving promotions for SC/ST government employees.

The Trinamul leader’s comment came on a day the Rajya Sabha passed a constitutional amendment bill providing for the quota.

While all parties except the Samajwadi backed the reservation proposal, leaders from mainline parties have been demanding a quota for the economically backward among the upper castes, too. Yesterday, Union minister C.P. Joshi had shared the dais with the BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi at a Brahmin conclave in Jaipur where he said economic criteria should be the basis for granting reservation.

Mamata, whose party voted in favour of the SC/ST bill, also sought to champion the cause of the other backward classes and minorities, saying the Centre should come up with special provisions for these sections too. In Bengal, she added, a sizeable section of Muslims was benefiting from OBC reservation.

Mamata slammed the Congress’s “game changer” cash transfer scheme. “We are opposed to the scheme,” she said. “How will you transfer the cash? What is the mechanism? Where is the machinery?”

In many areas there are no banks or post offices, she said, adding that till they were set up the poor would not get the money intended for them.

Mamata then stepped inside Parliament where, sources said, she hugged leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. She spoke to other BJP leaders, too, and told them how the Centre was encroaching on the rights of states. The sources said the BJP leaders assured her they would raise the issue in Parliament. The Trinamul chief showed no desire for meeting any Congress leader present in the House.

Mamata’s three-day stay in Delhi was low key. Apart from attending a meeting of commerce and industry chamber Ficci on Saturday and interacting with business captains today, she remained closetted at party MP Mukul Roy’s residence. She also paid a courtesy visit to President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday.