With the upcoming Assembly Elections, the vote bank politics is seen coming to the fore once again. Congress has been on terms to offer a Muslim quota (4.5 percent Sub-quota) within the 27 percent reservation for OBCs in central government jobs in the five election-bound states, particularly UP. All the political parties seem to have positioned themselves to reap electoral dividends.
On Tuesday the Election Commission (EC) issued a show-cause notice to Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid and his wife, Louise Khurshid, the Congress candidate from Farrukhabad in UP. The show cause notice was served as the law minister was campaigning for Louise and promised a 9 percent sub-quota for backward Muslims if Congress got voted to power in Uttar Pradesh. Khurshid retaliated to this by saying that he was merely repeating a pledge in his party’s election manifesto for the 2009 general election. He also said that his statement was not a poll violation of any sorts.
SP Chief Mulayam Singh who had initially refused to back the sub-quota apparently fearing the backlash from OBCs, later said that he would back 18 percent quota for Muslims. But it was noted that this would not be possible as experts said the quota cannot exceed 50 percent of the total OBC Muslim population and hence is currently 9 percent.
The BJP who has nothing to lose is seeking to use the quota politics to create a drift among OBC voters in the state who are inclined to support the SP and the Congress.
The potential of the quota promise with a view to sway Muslim opinion has forced Mulayam and other political leaders to promise a higher quantum of quota for Muslims. Looking for an opportunity to re-embrace a portion of OBC votes, BJP fielded one of the most prominent backward leaders in its fold, Uma Bharati, in order to launch an offensive against Congress quota promise. In a press conference Uma was quoted saying “Congress party’s decision to give 9% reservation to the minority community is a purely politically move, which has been announced in view of the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh”, as reported by ZeeNews.com.
Uma also added that “Congress’ divisive policies were responsible for the partition of the country some 60 years back and the ruling party (BSP) is once again trying to divide the country on the basis of religion. This is a bad politics that Congress is indulging in for increasing its vote banks.” Based on this the EC on Wednesday put the implementation of the new quota regime on a virtual hold till the process of elections in these states is completed (till March 9).
Meanwhile the BSP, the SP and the Congress are noted to have increased the number of Muslim candidates for the assembly elections. The BSP and the SP have named 75-80 candidates, while Congress leaders said the party will field Muslim candidates in around 70 constituencies in the final list, as reported by livemint.com.