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Muslim quota soon: CM

Calcutta, April 4: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today tried to woo Muslims back into the CPM fold, announcing quick implementation of a promised 10 per cent quota for the minority community in government jobs with an eye on the elections to 82 civic bodies in May.

“My department is working full swing and the quota will be implemented soon,” the chief minister, who also heads the minority ministry, said.

“If there can be reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, why can’t we have reservations for backward Muslims?” he asked.

Bhattacharjee was speaking at a programme organised by the West Bengal Minorities Development and Finance Corporation where scholarships and loans worth Rs 3 crore were given to 1,321 people, among them students and entrepreneurs from the minority communities.

He also said the government would spend Rs 500 crore in the 12 districts with a large Muslim population under a central scheme called the Multi-Sectoral Development Programme.

The chief minister had announced in February that 10 per cent government jobs would be reserved for members of the Muslim community who are educationally, socially and economically backward.

The Left Front government had faced flak after the Sachar Committee slammed it in 2006 by saying the condition of Muslims in Bengal was among the worst.

The impact of the report and the Left’s waning support among Muslims was said to be a prime reason behind its string of defeats since the 2008 panchayat polls.

“The Sachar committee report had only highlighted the condition of Muslims but remained silent on how their condition could be improved. The Ranganath Misra commission gave the solutions. Our state will be one of the first to implement it,” the chief minister said today.

The Misra commission had recommended a 15 per cent reservation for Muslims in education and employment. It had also recommended inclusion of Muslim and Christian Dalits in the list of Scheduled Castes.

Bhattacharjee said the condition of minorities, especially Muslims, was bad across the country. He did not elaborate on the condition of Muslims in Bengal. “If such a large section is backward, the society can never progress. We need to extend our support to this section of the society,” he said.

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