New Delhi: In a major decision ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in five states, the Union Cabinet on Thursday approved reservation for minorities under the Other Backward Castes category.
The Union Cabinet met in the evening to discuss the contentious issue and decided to give 4.5% sub-quota to minorities to be carved out from the existing quota of 27% for the OBC.
The reservation for the Muslims will be effective from January 01, 2012.
The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, took the decision that would pave way for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for minorities as defined in section 2 (C) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) are notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the Act.
The sub-quota will be notified by an executive order, to be issued tonight itself.
The decision is based on the recommendation of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities.
"The caste and communities of the said minorities which are included in the central list of OBCs notified from time to time by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment shall be covered by the said sub quota," an official source said.
Sources said the decision was unanimous, though Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamool Congress) was not present in the meeting.
According to reports, the Central government announced the decision as there are reports that the Election Commission may announce Assembly elections in five states on Friday. The government would not have been able announce it owing to the model code of conduct.
It should be noted that the controversial issue of Muslim reservation has been in constant limelight with the Congress leaders continuously indicating that the government is serious about the issue.
Earlier, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid had announced that the government will bring the reservation for minorities soon.
Speaking at a public rally in Kanpur along with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Khurshid had said, “Government is serious about bringing reservation for minorities. A decision in this regard will be taken soon.”
Maintaining that the government must fulfill the promises it made, Khurshid had earlier said, "We are elected to do what we promised. Before the five years are out, we must fulfill our promises."
Khurshid had said the government would soon take a decision on providing reservation for "backward Muslims" by including them in the 27 per cent OBC quota and a proposal in this regard would soon come up before Cabinet.