Does viral video show PM Modi opposing reservations in Rajya Sabha?

PM Modi reads the Nehru letter, in which he tries to emphasise the need for reservations based on economic considerations and not on caste.
Does viral video show PM Modi opposing reservations in Rajya Sabha?

 A 33-second-long video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has gone viral on social media. In the video, he can be heard saying, “I am against all reservation and especially against the reservation in jobs. I am against any structure that promotes inefficiency.”

Surendra Rajput, a national media panellist of the Congress party, shared the video with the caption, “What is Modi ji saying? He is against any reservation, especially in jobs? What is happening in BJP? (translated from Hindi)”

Fact Check

SouthCheck found that the claim is misleading.

On searching with appropriate keywords, we found a lengthier version of the same video uploaded by ANI on February 7, 2024.

In this video, one can hear PM Modi quoting the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, on Wednesday and claiming that Nehru was against reservations. PM Modi was giving the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address in Rajya Sabha.

The caption of the ANI video read, “In Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reads out a letter by the then PM late Jawaharlal Nehru to the then Chief Ministers. He says, ‘....I am reading out its translation – “I dislike any kind of reservation, more particularly in services. I am strongly against anything which leads to inefficiency and second rate standards..,” That is why I say that they are against it (reservation) by birth...Had the government recruited at that time and promoted them from time to time, they would have been here today’. (sic)”

The PM said that Nehru, in a letter to chief ministers, said that he was against reservations for marginalised communities because it promoted ‘inefficiency and second-rate standards,’ as reported by Mint.

The same was reported by the Times of India. The report mentioned that Modi said “This is a letter by Nehru to states. It shows that Congress has always been against reservation. Nehru ji used to say that if SC/ST/OBC get quotas in jobs, then the standard of the government work will fail.” He further said that according to Nehru, if the reservation is given to SC, ST or OBCs, then the work standards of the government will fall.

According to NDTV, PM Modi took a jibe at Congress and said that as the party takes Nehru’s statements as ‘pathhar ki lakeer (set in stone), their mindset can be understood through such examples.’ He further said that, unlike Congress, the BJP has always prioritised Dalits and Adivasis and worked towards their welfare.

The Congress party responded to PM Modi's comments, saying that the PM is more focused on Congress than talking about his government's work. The Times of India reported quoted Congress leader Rajiv Shukla as saying " “When was the reservation given? In Congress’ time under the Jawaharlal Nehru government. After that, Narasimha Rao ji implemented reservations for backward classes. But the Congress took care of all caste groups. We did not use them for votes."

Hence, we conclude that PM Modi did not say he was against reservations but was claiming to quote Nehru from a letter the latter wrote.

What were the Nehru letters?

The 'Nehru letters' that PM Modi quoted are from a collection of letters that Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to chief ministers then. The collection is called ‘Letters For A Nation: From Jawaharlal Nehru to His Chief Ministers 1947-1963’.

Here are the excerpts from the books where Nehru talks about reservations and their effect on society.    

“I have referred above to efficiency and to our getting out of our traditional ruts. This necessitates our getting out of the old habit of reservations and particular privileges being given to this caste or that group. The recent meeting we held here, at which the Chief Ministers were present, to consider national integration, laid down that help should be given on economic considerations and not on caste. It is true that we are tied up with certain rules and conventions about helping the scheduled castes and tribes. They deserve help but, even so, I dislike any kind of reservation, more particularly in Services. I react strongly against anything which leads to inefficiency and second-rate standards. I want my country to be a first class country in everything. The moment we encourage the second-rate, we are lost. The only real way to help a backward group is to give opportunities of good education, this includes technical education which is becoming more and more important.”

“…But if we go in for reservations on communal and caste basis, we swamp the bright and able people and remain second-rate or thirdrate. I am grieved to learn of how far this business of reservation has gone based on communal considerations.”

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