Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday said reservation was necessary for the progress of socially and economically backward classes, but reservation alone cannot ensure their complete development, PTI reported.

The minister was speaking at an event organised by the Mahatma Phule Shikshan Sanstha in Nagpur. He said the progress of a community should happen through education, social and economic means.

Mali community leaders, who belong to the Other Backward Classes category, speaking at the event demanded more representation and election tickets for members of their social group.

Gadkari told them that said such demands are very common from every community, and asked them to look beyond such assertions. He said he had personally experienced that even if a community had the most ministers, it did not translate to social progress for them. “Reservation should be given, but to those who are oppressed, Dalits, socially and economically backward sections of the society,” he said.

“When people fail to get ticket on the basis of their works they play caste card,” Gadkari was quoted as saying by the news agency. “I want to ask – did George Fernandes [former Union minister] belong to any caste,” he questioned. “He did not belong to any caste...he was a Christian. Did Indira Gandhi come to power because of caste”.

He also referred to the election of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to substantiate that “in politics those who do good work, don’t have to ask for votes as the votes come to them naturally”.

Gadkari also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi “for never invoking his caste”.

“There are people who went on to become big leaders, but no one ever talks about their caste,” the transport minister said. “Hence, we should create such leaders who can successfully lead the country, states and change the economic condition of the society.”

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