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Call off strike: Manmohan

K.V. Prasad

Interests of all sections will be addressed, students told; GoM submits report

— Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

CWC REVIEWS ISSUES: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee at a Congress Working Committee meeting in New Delhi on Saturday. They reviewed several issues, including the anti-quota stir and Telangana.

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday appealed to medical students to call of their strike against the proposed reservation for Other Backward Classes in institutions of higher learning and assured all sections of an amicable settlement.

Dr. Singh's plea came after the Group of Ministers submitted its report, recommending an increase in the number of seats so that the general category would not be affected.

The Prime Minister assured the students that he would resolve the issue amicably, taking into account the interests of all sections. He appealed to them not to resort to agitations and have faith in the Government's sincerity.

Different views

The reservation issue figured prominently at the Congress Working Committee, which discussed the constitutional validity of the proposal. There were also views different from than those of the Government. The mini debate came hours after the GoM headed by Pranab Mukherjee submitted its report.

At the end of the over two-hour meeting, Mr. Mukherjee told correspondents that while he would not disclose the details of the report, it broadly took into account the "interests of all sections of the student community.''

Pranab sticks to stand

Some members contended that the present Constitutional amendment might not stand judicial scrutiny, a source privy to the discussion said. A view was expressed that in case the courts struck down the amendment, Parliament would be free to decide what should be done.

Mr. Mukherjee asserted that the Government was bound to implement the Constitution amendment passed by Parliament.

This argument eventually carried the day. Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh dispelled the impression that he initiated the proposal as part of a "personal agenda."

He said the move followed a Parliament decision to provide reservation to the OBCs and that he discussed the issue with the Prime Minister.

Rs. 8,000 crore needed

Privileged sources said the GoM report also suggested the kind of infrastructure needed to match the increased intake. This would require expanding the faculty and supporting infrastructure.

The sources said it was estimated that the move would require an additional Rs. 8,000 crore and that time was needed to put everything in place.

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