Grappling with the volatile OBC quota issue, government on Wednesday set up a four-member committee of ministers for holding talks with political parties and academicians for evolving a comprehensive package as part of a strategy to "ascertain the effect" on other sections.
The committee comprising Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, H R Bhardwaj and Arjun Singh was set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a day when government told the Lok Sabha that there was no dilution of its commitment to provide OBC quota in elite educational institutions.
The reported proposal of the prime minister initiating discussion with political parties was also given up for the time being because of the current atmosphere, sources said.
A meeting of the Forum of OBC members of Parliament convened by Congress MP Hanumant Rao, to which MPs from the SC and ST were also invited, was cancelled at the last minute following "requests" by appropriate authorities "against precipitating matters".
The word going round was that there was no need for such a meeting on a day when the government had made its intention clear on the OBC quota issue.
The government has constituted the committee, which is an informal group and is neither a GoM nor a Cabinet committee, in view of the realisation that the task ahead was a difficult one and a consensus on a package needed to be evolved ahead of the new academic year.
Moving slowly against the backdrop of the anti-reservation stir, the committee was set up to make the bitter pill acceptable to all sections of society and to cool the atmosphere marred by growing acrimony on the issue.