No, PM Modi did not 'oppose reservation' in Parliament speech; viral video is edited

By: Mohammad Salman
March 20 2024

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No, PM Modi did not 'oppose reservation' in Parliament speech; viral video is edited

Screenshot of viral posts. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

A video of PM Modi's statement, which quotes a letter from India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, has been edited and shared out of context.

Claim ID b038c815

What is the claim?

A video showing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing opposition to all forms of reservation has gone viral on social media and instant messaging platforms, including WhatsApp. In the 33-second viral clip, Modi is captured saying, "I do not favor any kind of reservation, particularly job reservation. I oppose any measures that foster unskilled labor and degrade quality. That is why I say I am against caste. If the SC, ST, and OBC communities get jobs based on reservation, then the standard of government work may go down (translated from Hindi)," even as people can be heard shouting “shame, shame” in the background.

This video was shared on X (formerly known as Twitter) by Surendra Rajput, a national media panelist of the Indian National Congress. An archived version of the post can be accessed here. This claim was also shared on Facebook, and archived versions of such posts can be found here, here, and here

Screenshot of the viral posts. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, this video of Modi is misleading as it is edited and takes his words out of context. He quoted India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in the Parliament speech and did not voice his opinion.

What are the facts?

A Google search for this statement led us to several media reports on Modi’s speech in Parliament on reservation. An Indian Express report stated that Modi quoted a letter written by Jawaharlal Nehru to the then chief ministers and read out a translated version in Parliament.

We accessed the full video of the Parliament session uploaded on the YouTube channel of Sansad TV on February 7, 2024. We found that Modi delivered a speech in the Rajya Sabha during a discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the President's address. He also targeted the opposition party, Congress, on various issues.

Approximately 29 minutes into the video, Modi addresses the reservation issue, mentioning Nehru's letter to the chief ministers. At the 31-minute mark, Modi clarifies, "This letter from Pandit Nehru ji to the nation’s chief ministers is on record. 'I am not in favor of any reservation, especially in employment. Any step that encourages unskilled labor and lowers quality standards is something I oppose. That’s why I oppose caste. If SC, ST, and OBC communities obtain jobs through reservations, government service quality may decline.' This letter was from Pandit Nehru to the chief ministers."

This context reveals Modi was quoting Nehru, and the viral video misleadingly omits this critical information.

The letter written by Nehru to chief ministers

Nehru regularly corresponded with the leaders of the then-provincial governments, a practice he maintained until shortly before his death. His communications are compiled in ‘Letters for a Nation: From Jawaharlal Nehru to His Chief Ministers 1947-1963.’ The letter Modi referred to in Parliament, dated June 27, 1961, is included in this collection.

In the 1961 letter, Nehru wrote, “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.”

Prime Minister Modi read out excerpts from this letter by Nehru in Parliament. In his letter, Nehru states that the only way to assist any backward group is by providing opportunities for quality education. This letter is available to read here.

The verdict

The evidence presented clearly shows that Modi was not expressing his personal views on reservation; instead, he was reading a letter written by the country's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1961. Consequently, we have marked this claim as false.

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