AA Edit | Muslim quota quip stirs T-pot

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

Mr Shah restated and reaffirmed the BJP stance that religion-based reservations have no place in India

Union Home minister Amit Shah. (Photo by arrangement)

Union home minister Amit Shah’s statement at a public meeting organised by the Telangana state BJP unit at Chevella as a build up to the Assembly elections slated for the end of this year, in which he called upon people to elect his party and have the first-ever saffron state government in a Telugu state, in return for which, the party-led government would abolish the existing four per cent quota for Muslims has stirred the proverbial political pot.

Mr Shah restated and reaffirmed the BJP stance that religion-based reservations have no place in India because they are against the constitution, and the only justification for granting quota is either the historical caste-based quota for SCs, STs and OBCs, or those introduced either for gender or based on economic backwardness.

The BJP leader argued in Telangana state, drawing a parallel to the situation in Karnataka, that the four per cent quota for Muslims is provided after robbing the share of Dalits and Backward Castes, and therefore, it should be restored.

Both the Congress party, which introduced the quota after it came to power in 2004 in the combined Andhra Pradesh state, and the AIMIM, which is a strong votary and proponent of Muslim community interests, have predictably come down heavily against the statement, dubbing it a kind of “hate speech”, and an attempt to polarise the elections. MIM leader and Hyderabad MP, besides calling the speech an “anti-Muslim hate speech”, also argued that the saffron party had no vision for Telangana state. The Congress party, which opposed the revocation of Muslim quota in neighbouring Karnataka, used the Supreme Court observations against it, observing the BJP government’s decision to transfer four per cent Muslim quota to the Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities as “flawed” and on a “highly shaky ground”.

The ruling BRS government and party, which had a promise pending of increasing the Muslim quota from four to twelve, has not responded too strongly, basing their stance on the fact that the matter is under the scrutiny of the highest court. But the issue itself has rattled and shaken up the politics of Telangana state, leaving observers and common citizens fairly clear as to the battle lines along which the upcoming elections there would be fought on.