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Thackeray Government Silent On Muslim Reservation Issue

Pramod Chunchuwar | India Tomorrow

MUMBAI, AUGUST 27— The demand for five per cent reservation for Muslims has once again become a talking point in state politics as senior Congress leader Hussain Dalwai has raised this demand again. The Maha Vikas Aaghadi (MVA)-ruled state government which is doing everything possible to save Maratha reservation, is silent on this crucial issue.

Dalwai, who is also former Member of Parliament, played a crucial role in forging alliance with Shiv Sena as he was the first Congress leader to meet Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut when the process of alliance started. His meeting and support to the possible alliance helped Congress to allay fear in the mind of Muslims. Dalwai issued a statement demanding five per cent reservation for Muslims.

“The Muslims are neglected, backward and oppressed from generations. The MVA government which promised to ensure social justice in the state, is now neglecting the demand of Muslim reservation in the state. This partisan approach by MVA government is making Muslims upset and they are feeling neglected,” he stated. He also wrote a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Mallick for this.

“During 2019 Assembly elections, both the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) promised five per cent reservation for Muslims. Now, the government has completed almost eight months. But the government, which is very much serious about Maratha reservation, is silent or seems to be not interested in Muslim reservation. I am very strong supporter of Maratha reservation and making this demand for the last three decades. But at the same time, I expect that the state government should show the same seriousness about Muslim reservation,” Dalwai stressed while speaking with India Tommorrow.

History of reservation

The former Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government had given five per cent reservation to Muslims in government jobs and educational institutes through an Ordinance in July 2014. While the Bombay High Court, in November 2014, upheld five per cent reservation in government and government-aided educational institutes for Muslims on grounds of the community’s educational backwardness, it had stayed the reservation given in private educational institutes and government jobs. The Ordinance had lapsed in November 2014, as it was not converted into a law by the subsequent BJP-led government that came to power in the state.

But the Bombay High Court struck down reservation of Marathas in both education and jobs given by Congress-NCP government through an ordinance in July 2014. But BJP-led government, while showing its anti-Muslim attitude, did not re-issue any ordinance for continuing reservation for Muslims in education. The BJP government also did not take any decision to pass a law to enforce Muslim reservation. The BJP has taken a stand that it was against reservation on religious grounds.  But the same government has then approved reservation for Maratha community in both jobs and education.

Muslims need reservation in jobs and education

Educationist PA Inamdar, who is heading the Muslim Reservation Joint Action Committee (MRJAC), however, said the community is demanding reservation on the basis of social and educational backwardness. “We want the state to give five per cent reservation benefits in both government jobs and admission in educational institutes to Muslims in the state as it is a proven fact that the community is socially and educationally backward. We have reports of four different committees and commissions to prove our stand,” he said.

“The backwardness of the Muslim Community was put before the nation through various reports like Dr. Gopal Singh Committee, Sachar Committee, Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission, and Dr. Mehmood-ur-Rehman committee appointed by Maharashtra government. All the reports have shown that Muslims are very much backward than the other backward classes and they need reservation for their overall development,” Dalwai, who is also President of Maulana Azad Vichar Manch, stated.

“The Sachar committee has observed that the five per cent Muslims are studying in Madarsa, 38 per cent are child labour. This means 43 per cent Muslim children are out of the main stream education. At least 80 percent Muslims are economically weaker and at least 40 percent Muslims are below poverty line. Only 10 to 15 per cent Muslims can afford to have education. The percentage of Muslims in government jobs are just 4 per cent. According to Sachar Committee, more than 50 per cent Muslims stay in slums and 40 per cent Muslim-dominated villages do not have health, infrastructure and roads. These observations should be given utmost importance and reservation should be given immediately,” he said.

Proposal under consideration: Minister

NCP senior leader and Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Mallick,  while speaking with India Tommorrow, made it clear that the proposal to grant reservation to Muslim community is under consideration.

“We will ensure that the legislation to this effect is passed soon,” Mallick assured State Legislative Council in February this year. The minister also assured the Maharashtra Legislative Council of taking “appropriate action” in this regard before beginning of admissions in schools. Nawab Malik was responding to a question raised by Congress legislator Sharad Ranpise.

 But despite this assurance, there is no progress on this front in the last eight months.

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