Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday claimed that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi “proved her mettle” without the need for women’s reservation, PTI reported. However, he added that he is not opposed to quotas for women in Parliament.

“Indira Gandhi proved her mettle in her party among other dedicated male leaders,” the Union minister for road transport and highways said in Nagpur at the inauguration of an exhibition by women’s self-help groups. “Was it due to reservation?”

Gadkari added that Union minister Sushma Swaraj, former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan – all Bharatiya Janata Party leaders – did well in politics without quotas. However, he added: “I am not against women’s reservation. Women should get reservation.”

Gadkari said that he is against politics based on caste and religion. “One makes progress on the basis of knowledge,” the minister asserted. “Do we ask about the religion of Saibaba, Gajanan Maharaj or Sant Tukdoji Maharaj? Have we ever asked about the caste of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar or [social reformer] Jyotiba Phule?”