New Delhi, Oct. 25: A buzz about a proposed 10 per cent minority quota in jobs and education, carved out of the Other Backward Classes share in reservation, has upset parties dependent on their OBC vote banks.
Although the Centre has not announced any such proposal yet, minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid hinted at it recently.
According to reports, the Centre plans to set aside a six per cent quota for socially and economically backward Muslims from the 27 per cent OBC reservation, and a four pent quota for other deprived minorities.
The Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Ramvilas Paswans Lok Janshakti Party and the Janata Dal (United) are up in arms. They accuse the Congress of wooing Muslim voters in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh at the expense of the OBCs.
The Congress is deliberately trying to generate a clash between the OBCs and the Muslims to derive political mileage, Samajwadi MP and spokesperson Mohan Singh said.
He claimed the Congress knew very well the move would provoke legal challenges and yield nothing.
The Constitution does not allow religion-based reservation, so governments have sometimes tried to carve a minority quota out of the OBC quota and project it as backward reservation. Bengals former Left government tried this but the proposed quota is stuck in court.
Like always, the Congress is using the Muslims as a vote bank. It knows that reservation for Muslims will be legally challenged, as in Andhra and Bengal, leading to non-implementation, Singh said.
The Congresss 2009 Lok Sabha election manifesto had pledged minority reservation. Government sources say the current proposal is based on the 2007 Ranganath Misra Commission report, which suggested 10 per cent reservation for Muslims and five per cent for other minorities.
But Singh and JD(U) MP Ali Anwar claimed Misra did not envisage quotas carved out of the OBCs share. Misra recommended a constitutional amendment to lift the ban on religion-based quotas. Instead, the government is pitting Muslims against OBCs, Anwar said.
He said the Centre should amend the Constitution to also lift the 50 per cent cap on quotas and introduce an independent quota for minorities.
Misra did not explicitly suggest independent minority quotas, though. He recommended that Dalit Christians and Muslims be included in the central or state Scheduled Caste lists.
Anwar said the Centre must not tinker with the OBC or SC quotas. That will create all sorts of problems and the minorities will get nothing.