Beleaguered Congress to adopt old trick of quota politics in Maharashtra

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Playing Communal card just ahead of the elections is old trick of the Congress. This time too, with an eye on Assembly elections in Maharashtra, the Congress-NCP Government is planning to push 4.5 per cent reservation for Muslims in education and Government jobs.

According to report in the Indian Express, this in-principle decision was taken by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan after NCP president Sharad Pawar strongly pressed for it. 

Muslims account for 10.6 per cent of the population in Maharashtra and a committee under Mahmood-ur Rehman had recommended 8 to 10 percent reservation in education and jobs along with a separate 10 percent reservation for Muslim women.

The committee was set up in 2008 to study economic and social backwardness among Muslims in Maharashtra. A decision in this direction may be taken by the State Cabinet as early as Wednesday after the model code of conduct for Council elections ends on Tuesday.

Politics of appeasement has been the mainstay of Congress and many of its allies. This is not the first time the Congress has indulged into minority appeasement politics. There are a number of instances which clearly show the communal face of the party.

In the recently concluded Lok Sabha election where it faced disastrous defeat, the Congress left no stone unturned to woo the minority community. From visiting a number of Muslim clerics to launching an additional manifesto promising OBC quota to Muslims, the party leaders tried everything but nothing worked out in its favour.

Important to mention here, senior Congress leader Salman Khrushid's promise ahead of Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, wherein he promised 9 per cent sub-quota for backward Muslims within 27 per cent OBC quota  in the State. Former Law Minister had to face ire of Election Commission of India for violating Model Code of Conduct.

In 2009 election Congress legislated in Andhra Assembly for 5% quota for Muslims, which was later struck-down by the courts. The party in its 2009 election manifesto specifically mention quota to minorities, but never gets time to fulfill its promise.

The question which is noteworthy to raise here, 'Is Congress and other self claimed secular parties are really interested in Muslim upliftment or it is merely a political gimmick? 

The Sachar Committee which was appointed in 2005 to prepare report on social, economic and educational condition of the Muslim community, reveals another side of the story.

According to the major findings by the committee, 'the status of Indian Muslims are below the conditions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.'

'The overall percentage of Muslims in bureaucracy in India is just 2.5% whereas Muslims constitute above 14% of Indian population.'

As per a report in the Hindu which pointed to the poor functioning and lack of interest of the Ministry of Minority Affairs said that allocations for the much-publicised Minority Concentration Districts [MCDs] aggregated to a total of Rs. 37,800 crore until March 2011.

Yet even this “meagre” allocation was underutilised:

“It was shocking to note that only Rs. 856 crore [which is 22.8 per cent of central allocation] had reached the districts. Much lower amount was found to have been taken to the grassroots...” Had the Congress really been interested in the welfare of the community, the picture would have been different.

Muslim Community now needs better reform in education policies which encourage their participation in the main stream and hence, help them to prosper.

Giving them quota will only encourage them not to strive for the best. Congress should take a lesson from the recently concluded Lok Sabha poll where the minority did not pay heed to its appeasement policies and rather vote for change.

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