Rajasthan to review reservation granted to Muslims under OBC category

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Avinash Gehlot alleged that the Congress had given reservation to 14 Muslim groups under the OBC category ‘as part of its appeasement politics’

Published - May 25, 2024 11:49 pm IST - JAIPUR

Rajasthan CM Bhajan Lal Sharma. File

Rajasthan CM Bhajan Lal Sharma. File | Photo Credit: ANI

The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Rajasthan is set to review the reservation in jobs and education granted to Muslims under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category. A high-level committee is likely to be appointed soon for examining the classification of certain Muslim groups as OBCs in the State and submitting its recommendations to the government.

Rajasthan’s Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Avinash Gehlot said here on Saturday that the Congress had given reservation to 14 Muslim groups under the OBC category “as part of its appeasement politics” between 1997 and 2013 despite the Constitution disallowing reservation on the basis of religion. “We have all those circulars, and the department and the government are going to review it,” Mr. Gehlot said.

The ruling BJP hinted at the withdrawal of reservation to Muslims in any form, amid a debate on the issue during the ongoing Lok Sabha election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently accused the Congress of making an attempt to reduce the quota for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs and, instead, giving it to Muslims in defiance of the Constitution. The BJP has alleged that the Congress intends to extend reservation to Muslims all over the country.

Mr. Gehlot said his department had received “lots of complaints” on the matter. The committee may be constituted after the Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha election comes to an end with the declaration of results on June 4.

In the overall 64% reservation in Rajasthan, the quota for the OBCs at present is 21%. There are as many as 82 castes and groups classified as OBCs, among whom the Muslims getting the reservation benefits include Meo, Kayamkhani, Bhishti, Manganiyar, Lakhera, Mirasi, Kathat, Bisayati, Sindhi, Gaddi, Julaha and Qasai.

Chief Minister Bhajan Lal Sharma also made remarks about reservation during his election campaign tour to Lucknow earlier this week. Mr. Sharma said the Calcutta High Court’s recent judgment cancelling all OBC certificates issued in West Bengal since 2010 had put “a lock” on Mamata Banerjee’s “politics of appeasement”.

Mr. Sharma said the Constitution does not allow for any reservation on the basis of religion. “No one is going to get the quota based on religion in Rajasthan,” he said.

The Opposition Congress said that the Muslim groups were classified as OBCs at different points of time under due process on the basis of recommendations made by the State OBC Commission after their socio-economic surveys.

State Minorities Commission chairperson and Congress MLA Rafiq Khan said the reservation could only be termed as based on religion if the entire Muslim community was given the quota benefit. “This is not the case. The Muslims have got reservation on the ground of their backwardness. They need it for coming to the mainstream,” Mr. Khan said.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) State general secretary Kashif Zuberi said his party would protest against the proposed review, as the BJP wanted to target Muslims on the pretext of ensuring social justice for the majority community. “The BJP should review its Assembly election manifesto instead of taking decisions to target the Muslim community without any provocation,” Mr. Zuberi said.

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