Bhattacharjee at the programme. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Calcutta, Oct. 11: Former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said the new government had “virtually put on hold” the minority job quota the Left had introduced in the state, renewing an attempt to woo back a significant section that had deserted the CPM.
“Our government had thought about welfare measures for the Muslims of our state. Accordingly, we had decided to reserve jobs for backward Muslims in the government. This new government hasn’t scrapped our reservation policy. But it has virtually put it on hold,” Bhattacharjee told a meeting convened to express solidarity with victims of the violence in Assam in August.
However, government sources pointed out that the new administration had passed a new bill in July this year to facilitate the reservation in government jobs.
Although a gazette notification is yet to be issued, the state government is continuing the process of recruiting 17 per cent other backward classes candidates in government jobs based on an executive order issued by the Left Front government.
The previous Left Front government had increased the reservation in government jobs for OBCs, many of whom are Muslims, from 7 per cent to 17 per cent. The enhanced reservation was implemented by issuing the executive order in September 2010.
Later, the Left Front got a bill passed in the Assembly but did not secure the governor’s assent.
After the change of guard at Writers’, the Mamata Banerjee government withdrew the legislation and introduced the new bill with a few minor changes.
Bhattacharjee today asserted that the CPM’s fight to protect the interests of Muslims would continue and that his party would not tolerate any effort to create a communal divide.
“A democracy cannot comprise Hindus only. Muslims must also exist simultaneously. That’s what our country and Bengal should stand for. Our party will always continue its fight to protect the interests of the minorities,’’ the former chief minister told the gathering at the Calcutta University institute hall.
Accusing the BJP of trying to create mistrust between communities, he said the party’s “communal’’ politics would destroy the social fabric of the country. “Just see how the BJP mixed politics with religion. They began calling Bengali Hindus crossing over to our country refugees… but labelled Bengali Muslims coming over as infiltrators,’’ said Bhattacharjee.
“Why this discrimination? Just because the majority of the Muslims in our country are not educated? We cannot do this to helpless people who came over to our country because of Partition,” he added.