The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Backward tag for Muslims: CPM

New Delhi, Nov. 1: The CPM wants the government to declare Muslims a backward community in the Constitution to make them eligible for the benefits available to other weaker sections like the scheduled castes and tribes and other backward classes.

At the first meeting of its “minority fraction” today, CPM leaders suggested that the Planning Commission should have a sub-plan within its 11th five-year plan to address the special needs of Muslims.

The Constitution recognises only one category — “socially and educationally backward” — for reservation in jobs and education. It does not take into account religion and economic status.

Reservation benefits are bestowed on SC/ST and OBCs. But Muslims, despite being more backward than OBCs, are not entitled to any.

The latest data of the National Sample Survey Organisation shows that Muslims are worse off than SCs and are lagging behind OBCs in education and employment. They are under-represented even in government jobs and public sector undertakings.

Ironically, the CPM leadership itself suffers from a severe under-representation. Its 17-member politburo does not have a single Muslim leader.

In the political report adopted at its last central committee meeting, the CPM had underlined the need for “affirmative action” for Muslims to give them their “due share in jobs, education and development”.

Even in a state like Bengal, where the CPM is in power for a quarter of a century, the condition is no different.

Although the CPM has thought nothing of allying with parties that identify with religion in Kerala for the sake of power politics, it is historic for a communist organisation with its roots in class struggle to separately address the low status of Muslims.

The realisation that ignoring these identities has cost the party votes has propelled the CPM to stage a revolution of sorts.

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