Lucknow: The promise
by the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) to move a resolution in the
Uttar Pradesh assembly during the budget session in February 2013
to give Muslims a quota in government jobs and educational
institutions has stirred a political storm in the state.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has threatened to launch a
state-wide agitation against the move, many in the SP have aired
their apprehensions over "such an overt minority appeasement
SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, the powerful cousin of party
supreme Mulayam Singh Yadav, had earlier this week slammed the
Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the
centre for not pushing the minority quota issue "enough", and
asserting that the state government would move the legislation on
this in the assembly.
A constitutional amendment would be sought for creating the
quotas, Yadav said.
The SP, many feel, wants the quotas for Muslims to counter
arch-rival and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati's campaign
for quotas and job promotions for the Scheduled Castes and
Scheduled Tribes. Muslims comprise about 19 percent of the 200
million population of India's most populous state.
With the SP aiming at a major haul of the state's 80 seats in the
2014 Lok Sabha polls, insiders say, the party is crafting an
action plan which would be seen as "extremely pro and caring for
Muslims". Many also feel this was the SP central leadership's way
of offsetting the damage to the party that the Shahi Imam of
Delhi's Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, is hell bent on causing.
Bukhari, who campaigned extensively for the SP in the 2012
assembly polls, has now fallen out with the ruling dispensation,
largely because of his bitter relationship with Urban Development
Minister Mohammad Azam Khan, who has not missed a chance to take
On his part, Bukhari says the SP is not serious about reservations
for Muslims. "The SP government is cheating the minorities with
its double speak", he said, accusing Mulayam Singh of sidelining
"With his vehement opposition to the SC/ST job quota in
parliament, Mr. Yadav has made it clear that his focus in the
coming days would veer around the upper castes and so the Muslim
voters be damned," he fumed.
While SP leaders admit that the stand might lead to polarization
on community lines in the state, they point out that any such
eventuality would only end up helping the party in the general
BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said that the Samajwadi Party
was trying to divide the state on caste and community lines. "It
is good to have a majority but one should not become reckless," he
said, while pointing out that then chief minister Mayawati had
moved a resolution to divide the state into four.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)