Congress ties knots over reservation issue

Congress on Saturday tied itself in knots saying it favoured further increase in job quotas for backward minorities in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

Last Updated: Jan 14, 2012, 19:05 PM IST

New Delhi: A day after distancing itself
from Law Minister Salman Khurshid`s remarks on reservation,
Congress on Saturday tied itself in knots saying it favoured further
increase in job quotas for backward minorities in poll-bound
Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress also said that it was of the opinion that
there should not have been a ban on the Centre`s decision on
4.5 per cent reservation for minorities in jobs as it was
taken prior to poll announcement.

The Election Commission had directed the Centre to put on
hold the implementation of its decision on job quotas for
minorities in the five poll-bound states.

Khurshid had triggered off a controversy by promising to
increase the sub-quota for OBC Muslims in Uttar Pradesh by 9
percent, a remark dubbed by Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi
yesterday as the "individual view" of the Law Minister.

"It is an individual view. It would be better if you ask
Khurshid for his reaction in the matter. There is inner party
democracy in our party", Alvi had said yesterday in response
to a volley of questions including whether the party saw
nothing wrong with the Minister`s statement.

Today, Alvi said the Congress party, in its 2009 Lok
Sabha election manifesto, had promised to provide reservation
to OBC Muslims on the lines it had done in Andhra Pradesh.

"The manifesto for Uttar Pradesh elections is being
readied we are discussing to increase this (4.5 per cent)
percentage and that will be in our manfiesto for UP
elections," he said.

On the EC decision, Alvi said "though the EC has put the
reservation decision on hold, we are of the view that any
party which goes to polls will find itself in a difficult
position if it does not talk about its manifesto."

Alvi said that Khurshid called him today morning and
clarified that he had not mentioned any definitive figure like
9 percent but talked about it being between 8 to 9 percent and
that after calculations it will be part of the manifesto.

"Our view is that Election Commission has the
responsibility to conduct fair polls in the country. EC is a
constitutional body and it should be beyond criticism. We will
not comment on its orders even if anything goes against us.

But our opinion is that we had announced the decision
(on 4.5 percent reservation for backward Muslims) well before
the election dates were announced. According to us, there
should not have been any ban on that decision," Alvi said.

He, however, evaded direct answers on specific queries on
whether it was proper for the Law Minister to announce a
figure even before the manifesto for the state election was
out.

"It has to be caluclated. I can`t say how much it would
be. But Salman Khurshid is also the Chairman of the manifiesto
committee for the state," Alvi pointed out suggesting Khurshid
might have said it as he was aware of what was being finalized
in the party manifesto.

Sources in AICC meanwhile said the party is likely to
announce an enhance 8.5 percent reservation for backward
minorities in Uttar Pradesh.

Asked why he distanced himself from Khurshid`s remarks
yesterday, Alvi merely said,"we do not say anything different
from what we decide in our manfiesto".

He said the party, as promised in its 2009 Lok Sabha
election manifesto, will provide reservation to backward
minorities everywhere including Uttar Pradesh on the line of
Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

PTI