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Mulayam in minority pitch

Mulayam

New Delhi, Dec. 17: The Samajwadi Party today demanded reservation for Muslims, disrupting proceedings in both Houses of Parliament as the heartland outfit moved to counter the push for a promotion quota for scheduled castes and tribes.

Sources said the party’s demand, on a day the Rajya Sabha voted to pass the SC/ST promotion bill, was aimed at scoring politically over both the Congress and its Uttar Pradesh rival BSP.

The Samajwadi moved notices in both the Houses, demanding suspension of question hour to discuss the issue. Denied, party members raised slogans and disrupted proceedings.

The Lok Sabha could not transact any business through the day, while question hour was disrupted in the upper House.

Ram Gopal Yadav, the party’s leader in the Rajya Sabha, raised the issue during zero hour. Referring to the Sachar committee report, he said the condition of Muslims was worse than that of Dalits and demanded the Constitution be amended to grant reservation to Muslims.

“If quota in promotion can be given to SCs and STs by amending the Constitution, then why should Muslims not be given reservation in proportion to their population by a similar constitutional amendment,” Ram Gopal said.

Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav made a similar demand in the Lok Sabha. The House could not function as every time it assembled, Samajwadi members rushed to the well and raised slogans against the proposal to reserve promotions for SC/ST government employees. “Promotion me aarakshan nahi chalega (down with reservation in promotion),” they shouted.

Despite strong opposition from the Samajwadi, the UPA government has gone ahead with the promotion bill. The sources said Mulayam wants to make the most of it by pitching for a similar reservation for Muslims, hoping it would send the right signal to minority voters in Uttar Pradesh.

The party also believes its opposition would help it attract the upper castes in the heartland state.

After its passage in the Rajya Sabha, the SC/ST bill is scheduled to come to the Lok Sabha, where the Samajwadi plans to raise a hue and cry against it.

Compared to the upper House, where the Samajwadi’s strength is just nine MPs, the party has 22 members in the lower House.