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13 December 2011

Muslim quota part of larger plan, govt may cover ‘most backwards’

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By Seema Chishti

New Delhi: Its eye on the UP Assembly elections, the Centre is going to package the reservation for backward Muslims being planned out of the 27 per cent OBC quota as part of a series of reservation measures, covering a large bracket of beneficiaries. Apart from designating the quota for Muslims as part of a larger reservation for “minorities”, the UPA government is planning to promise a quota for “the most backward” communities as well as “the poor among the forward castes”.

This, a section in the Congress leading the UP campaign has calculated, will help it prevent a backlash against reservations for Muslim backwards as well as expand its vote base to communities that have moved away from the party, particularly the forward castes and the most-backward castes. With Rahul Gandhi leading the battle from the front in Uttar Pradesh, efforts are on to give this a push before the polls.

Union Minorities Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is reported to have indicated as much during a recent meeting in Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh. While the Centre would look at set examples in states for carving out a share for most-backward castes, it will have to work out how to work the mathematics for a quota for poor forwards.

The plan, sources said, is to have a 8.4 per cent quota for “minorities” within the 27 per cent share of OBCs. This would be divided into 6 per cent for backward Muslims and 2.4 per cent for other minorities. There are about 34 most-backward communities in Uttar Pradesh (including caste groups like Rajbhar and Nishad) who now fall under the broad category of OBCs enjoying 27 per cent quota but could soon have access to a smaller, targeted reservation for them.

This would directly affect parties such as the Samajwadi Party, the Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal which, in the post-Mandal age, have managed to draw in backward castes and Muslims, and reap rich dividends at the Congress’s cost. A move to carve a quota for minorities, especially Muslims, out of a larger backward quota will leave these parties in a dilemma over whether to support it or not.

(Courtesy: Indian Express)

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