The former Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader P.G.R. Sindhia has said it is absolutely imperative for affirmative action to be extended to Muslims, but lashed out at the Congress for turning the issue into a poll plank in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections.

Speaking at a seminar on reservation for Muslims organised by the Sama Samaja Vedike here on Wednesday, he said the announcement of 9 per cent reservation for Muslims by the Congress is arbitrary and aimed merely at the vote bank.

“On what basis was this figure arrived at?” he sought to know even as he pointed out that the Constitution provides for reservation in proportion to the population of a community.

“There has not been a social and economic evaluation of the various castes and communities in the country since 1931. There is no doubt that Muslims have been left behind in the development of the country, but if we are not in a position to accurately assess what sections among them are backward how can we provide for them?” he said.

C.S. Dwarakanath, former chairperson of the Backward Classes Commission, said that there was nothing wrong with reservation for minorities as they had been kept away from the mainstream for long. However, it is risky and unscientific to look at them as a homogenous entity because gradation, much like that in the Hindu communities, exists among Christians, Muslims and Sikhs as well.

He named several sub-groups within these communities, who are also treated as untouchables. He concurred with Mr. Sindhia and said that there is a need for a socio-economic census of the minority communities.