Political row over 4.5% sub-quota for minorities

A political row erupted over Centre`s decision to fix a 4.5 per cent share for minorities within the existing 27 per cent OBC reservation.

New Delhi: A political row erupted over
Centre`s decision to fix a 4.5 per cent share for minorities
within the existing 27 per cent OBC reservation with BJP and
ally JD(U) firmly opposing it while Samajwadi party and CPI-M
said this quota was just "tokenism" and demanded an increase.

The ruling Congress on its part welcomed the decision
taken by the Union Cabinet, saying it was a "praiseworthy"
step and that the party was only fulfilling a promise given in
its manifesto for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

The decision, which would benefit all minorities listed
as Other Backward Classes(OBC), was taken yesterday ahead of
the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

BJP leader Anant Kumar said the quota-within-a-quota for
government jobs and university seats is "wrong" and that the
party will oppose the decision.
"Backward classes need to be empowered. They should get
social justice. We are not in favour of this move. We are
against this," he said.

Kumar`s party colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "The
BJP will strongly oppose such a move taken by the government
which is based on caste system."

Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav said the Cabinet
decision was nothing but "deception" and demanded that
minorities should get at least 18 per cent reservation.
He rejected suggestions that his demand was a political stunt.

"At least 18 per cent reservation should be given. 4.5
per cent means nothing. It should be done according to the
population of minorities. This is deception," the former UP
Chief Minister, who is making a strong bid to woo Muslims to
regain power, told reporters.

Muslims account for 18 per cent of UP`s estimated 200
million population and hold the key in nearly a fifth of its
assembly constituencies.

The CPI(M) said the sub-quota was "most inadequate" and
"tokenism", and sought a constitutional amendment to implement
15 per cent reservation for minorities.
Congress leader Digvijay Singh said Congress had promised
reservation for OBC Muslims in its election manifesto for the
2009 Lok Sabha polls.

"That promise has been fulfilled," he said.

"Granting separate quota to Muslims is a praiseworthy
step of the Central Government", Union Minister for Steel Beni
Prasad Verma said in Lucknow.

In a statement, the CPI(M) Politburo said, "The UPA
government has taken this step which smacks of tokenism and
has been resorted to keeping the Uttar Pradesh elections in

It said the decision does not reflect the main
recommendation of the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission

The Commission had recommended implementation of 10 per
cent reservation for Muslims and five per cent for other
minorities based on the socially and economically backward

"To enable this, necessary constitutional amendment
should be undertaken," the CPI(M) said.

CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat said the
sub-quota was not good enough and would not benefit the
minorities a lot.
The response of JD(U), a key NDA ally, was articulated
by its national spokesman Shivanand Tiwari, who wanted the
decision to be withdrawan.

Tiwari described the decision as "unfortunate"and
criticised Congress for bolstering the strength of `Hindutva`
and trying to break the standing social alliance between OBCs
and minorities for "garnering votes in UP assembly polls."

Ram Vilas Paswan`s Lok Janshakti Party(LJP) supported
the Cabinet decision.

Paswan, the chief of LJP, said, "The government has not
followed a policy of appeasement. This is something that
should have been done a long time ago. Even if the government
has announced this very close to elections in 5 states, there
is nothing wrong with it."


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