Dec 022011

“Welfare of the minorities has been our policy and our manifesto promises that we shall take all steps necessary to solve the problem of their educational and economic backwardness, and we expect to take a decision on this issue soon,” Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.

Even before the political fire over allowing 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail could be doused, the Congress is getting ready for the next flashpoint —  quota for  Muslims within the reservation for other backward castes (OBCs).

With all-out efforts being made by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to restore the party’s position of primacy in Uttar Pradesh politics in the 2012 assembly elections, the UPA government has a political compulsion to make this move.

It is seen as win-win situation for the Congress vis-a-vis the two major opponents — the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party. For the SP, the move will dent is support base among the OBCs and the Muslims, as an opposition to this quota for the minorities would wean them away from it. For the BSP, the move come comes as an answer to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati’s announcement to split the state into four.

The party would not mind turmoil in parliament because of the obvious political dividends. “We do expect a hostile reaction from different quarters, but then we are prepared for it,” a senior party functionary said.

Highly-placed sources in the party indicated that the cabinet would take a decision on this issue in the third week of this month, and a lot of preparatory effort has already gone into the exercise.

A note prepared by the Union ministry of social justice envisages the government to bring a simple gazette notification after the cabinet approval, rather going for a parliamentary approval.   The note prepared in consultation with the law ministry says there is no need for Parliament’s nod as reservation would be carved out of the OBC quota.

The Muslim communities to get the benefit will be notified by expanding the list of the OBCs as was done last week by adding 50 castes from 20 states, including Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Maharashtra, in the list by the social justice ministry on the recommendations of the National Commission for Backward Classes.

Uttar Pradesh has 18 per cent Muslim population according to the 2001 census. Around 24 per cent of them, including Muslim Jats in western UP, could swing the poll fortunes of whichever party they vote, that too mostly en-block as seen in the past polls.

News Source: DNA India

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