Facing mounting protests, the Union government began formal talks with striking medicos on Thursday, assuring them that seats in the general category will not come down due to reservation.
Coverage: The Reservation Issue
With a political problem glaring at its face, the Congress Working Committee is meeting on May 20 to discuss the issue in a move seen as attempts to help the government resolve the crisis. Several partners of the United Progressive Alliance coalition have called for the immediate implementation of the reservation policy.
Graphic: Anti-quota fire engulfs India
On a hectic day on the reservation front, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met a delegation of Communist Party of India leaders and told them that the government was committed to the proposed reservation. He, however, informed them about 'apprehensions' among certain sections.
Dr Singh plans to begin consultations with political parties on the issue on Monday.
The government committee headed by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee held its first meeting with medical students striking against the proposal seeking to reserve seats for backward classes in elite educational institutions and Central universities.
The committee told the students that a mechanism was being worked out by which the number of seats in the general category would not come down once the new reservation policy was implemented.
However, it was also pointed out that working out such a mechanism would take time considering that raising the number of seats was not easy as it was coupled with infrastructural problems like raising the number of teachers and other facilities.
The striking doctors maintained that government had not given them any assurance on their demands for a roll back of the proposed quota and setting up of a non-political judicial commission to look into the entire issue. They reiterated their demand for a statement from the prime minister on the issue.
"We put forward our point of view and they came out with their suggestions. Talks are expected to continue," Dr Harsh, a representative of the Resident Doctors Association of All India Institute of Medical Sciences and 'Youth for Equality' told reporters after meeting the ministers.