The Left Front government in West Bengal has stolen a march over the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre on the implementation of the Ranganath Mishra Commission’s recommendations by deciding to reserve 10 per cent of government jobs for the economically, educationally and socially backward sections among Muslims.

Announcing this here on Monday, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said those benefiting from the decision would be brought under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category for which seven per cent of jobs were already reserved. “This will bring the total percentage of job reservation in West Bengal for the OBCs to 17.”

“It is not clear to us what the Centre will do [about the Ranganath Mishra Commission recommendations] but we have decided to accept it to ensure reservation of jobs for minorities not on the basis of religion but taking into account the economically, educationally and socially backward sections among the Muslims ... A committee will be set up to identify them,” the Chief Minister said.

“To start with, we are looking at reservation in jobs; after that we will think of reservation in educational institutions.”

The committee would suggest putting in place a mechanism for the implementation of the decision and would conduct a survey in all districts to identify the backward sections among Muslims.

Mr. Bhattacharjee said “the creamy layer” among the community, those whose annual income was Rs. 4.5 lakh or more would be excluded from the benefit.

Asked whether his government was considering five per cent reservation for other minorities, Mr. Bhattacharjee said: “At this point of time we are only announcing what applies to the Muslims as their numbers are substantial in our State. They constitute nearly 25 per cent of the population; therefore we are taking care of them first.”

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