Mumbai: Congress on Saturday justified its decision to provide reservation in education and government jobs to Muslims in Maharashtra though it conceded the timing of the move was "wrong", while it slammed the BJP-Shiv Sena administration over the ban on cattle slaughter in the State.
Ahead of the October 15 Assembly polls, then Congress-NCP government issued an ordinance providing for five per cent quota each in educational institutes and jobs to Muslims.
Post-election BJP formed its government, which was later joined by Shiv Sena. The executive order has lapsed now.
Talking to reporters here, Congress Rajya Sabha member Hussain Dalwai said "47 per cent of Muslims in Maharashtra live below the poverty line and more than 78 per cent of child labourers are Muslims.
"To get Muslims at par with others, it is necessary they that are given reservation. While the timing (of the decision) was wrong, out intentions were absolutely right."
Every committee formed to gauge the status of the minority community has conceded that they are in dire need of reservation, Dalwai said, adding the present government "should stop treating Muslims as secondary citizens."
"A government's duty is take every community along on the path of development. You cannot ignore some only for the sake of vote-bank politics."
Dalwai said his party will launch a "mass agitation" over the Bill that bans cattle slaughter in the State. The Bill got President's assent early this week.
"Troubling a particular community will do you no good. This ban will not affect the wealthy people as much as it will affect the poor. This issue is not about a particular community only.
"Beef is eaten by those who cannot afford chicken or goat's meat. Plus with the sky-rocketing prices of vegetables in the present government's tenure, banning slaughters will further hit lower income groups," the Congress leader said.
"Farmers are under severe financial pressure since 2011. Hailstorms, droughts and now rains. The Rs 7,000 crore announced by the government is yet to be disbursed. The recent rains have caused losses worth at least Rs 1,000 crore. The ban on animal slaughter will cause hardship to farmers as they won't be able to get rid of unproductive cattle," he said.
Besides, banning cattle slaughter does not only affect beef traders, but several related industries like leather and medicines, Dalwai said.