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Poll panel stays minority quota

Wednesday January 11, 2012 11:00:35 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Amid fierce resistance by the BJP to religion-based reservations, the Election Commission Wednesday asked the government to put on hold the implementation of the 4.5 percent sub-quota for minorities in the five poll-bound states till the elections are complete.

Last month, just before elections were announced for five states including Uttar Pradesh, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government decided to provide 4.5 percent reservation to minorities in central government jobs and educational institutions within the 27 percent quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

Taking note of the opposition, the poll panel ruled Wednesday that the decision was taken and announced on Dec 22, much before the coming into force of the model code of conduct on Dec 24.

It, however, directed the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions that the office memorandum (on the minorities quota) issued by them shall not be given effect to in the five poll-bound states -- Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand -- until the completion of the election process in these states.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid Monday promised that the party will provide nine percent reservation to backward Muslims within the OBC quota if the Congress was voted to power in Uttar Pradesh.

The move has elicited vehement opposition from the BJP, with party leader Uma Bharti Wednesday accusing the Congress of a "bigoted mentality" for talking of "religion-based reservation" ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. The BJP had even complained to the EC Tuesday, which issued notice to Khurshid.

Uma Bharti, a former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, said here that the Muslim community should also oppose the proposal as it was "against the basic tenets of Islam".

"Islam does not accept discrimination. Caste inequality has been a part of Hindu society," Uma Bharti said.

"It reflects the bigoted mentality of Congress. Muslims should also condemn the Congress... We will not tolerate it. We will fight on the streets, in parliament," Bharti said and added that the party will not allow a "second partition of the country".

The BJP leader said former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had also spoken against religion-based reservation.

Uma Bharti, who is among the lead campaigners of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh elections, said Muslims had got the maximum share in economic development in Gujarat, a state ruled by the party.

The Congress, however, hit back and accused the BJP of communalising politics.

"It is ironical that the BJP, which is culpable of injecting communal element in the body politic, is accusing the Congress of psychological division of the society," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said at a press briefing here.

"All know the character and conduct of the BJP. Even their phraseology is condemnable," he added.








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