The Congress party in Telangana has launched a signature campaign to mount pressure on the government to implement 12 per cent quota for Muslims in jobs and educational institutions. The campaign titled as “One Million Yes for 12% Muslim Reservation in Telangana” aims to mobilise one million signatures in support of the quota.
Reservation for Muslims was one among the many promises made by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) during the 2014 elections. Now the Congress accuses the ruling party of trying to hoodwink the minorities.
According to the Telangana Congress unit president N. Uttam Kumar Reddy, “There has been a tremendous public response to our signature campaign with 200,000 people already signing the petition.” He had earlier said that they would run a massive online campaign on all social media platforms. “This will be one of the biggest and most aggressive campaign ever launched seeking Muslim reservation in India,” he had said.
The Congress floor leader in the Telangana Legislative Council Mohammad Ali Shabbir demanded convening of an all-party meet to discuss the strategy to be adopted in the Supreme Court which will here the matter on April 18. “We doubt the sincerity of this government in implementing quota for Muslims as it has failed to even to send its representative to the Supreme Court when the matter was heard on February 29,” Shabbir Ali pointed out.
The Muslim reservation policy has always been in a legal quagmire ever since it was first mooted in 2004 in the combined Andhra Pradesh by the then Congress government headed by late Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy. At present, there is four per cent quota for Muslims in jobs and educational institutions so that the total reservations do not exceed 50 per cent. The apex court had given interim clearance for the quota policy but the final verdict on the matter is still awaited.
Muslims constitute 12.68 per cent of Telangana’s 3.52 crore population.
If the promised 12 per cent quota is implemented, the overall reservation will go up to 58 per cent, requiring a constitutional amendment.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has assured the minorities that his government would push for the Tamil Nadu model where total reservations stand at 69 per cent.
Though the state government had set up a three-member committee in March last year to study the socio-economic conditions of Muslims and recommend the hike in quota accordingly, it has yet to submit its report.
The BJP is strongly opposed to the Muslim quota, saying the religion-based reservation was unconstitutional. According to the state BJP president Dr K. Lakshman, “We will never accept reservations on the basis of religion.”
The Congress government had first issued an order in July 2004, providing for five per cent reservations to Muslims in jobs and educational institutions. It was struck down by High Court in September 2004 as being a violation of the constitution.
Later the government constituted a four-member Backward Classes Commission and based on its report issued the quota ordinance in June 2005, categorizing entire Muslim community as Backward Class.
This too was quashed by the court in November 2005 and it pulled up the commission for not following proper methodology before recommending inclusion of Muslims in the BC list. It termed the ordinance as “unconstitutional and arbitrary”. After a three-year long legal battle, the government brought it down to 4 percent so that the overall quota did not exceed 50 per cent.
The government also limited the benefits to 15 Muslim groups identified by the AP Backward Classes Commission as socially and educationally backward.