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Congress proposes 4.5% reservation to Muslims: If it is not a vote bank politics then what?
After seven phases of Lok Sabha elections it seems the ruling Congress is in mood to use the best weapon hidden in its armoury to woo Muslim voters. And that best weapon is extension of reservation benefits to backward Muslims along with granting SC status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims.

In its sub-manifesto the Congress has tried to portray that it is the only party which seriously thinks about the welfare of people from these communities. Congress's additional manifesto on "empowerment of minorities", the party has said that it will work towards earmarking a quota of 4.5% for backward Muslims in the existing other backward caste (OBC) reservations.

This is for the first time the party has specifically reiterated the 4.5% sub-quota announced by the Manmohan Singh government but which was stalled in courts.

Dr. Nisar Ul Haq, a political science professor from Jamia Milia Islamia, welcomed the Congress's proposal and called it a new ray of hope for those majority of Muslims who are still struggling in society because of 'backwardness'.

He expressed his happiness and stated, “It has to be immediate. Sachchar committee report on Indian Muslims said that they are much more backward then the SC/STs. There is no harm if the Congress wants to put them in the bracket of backward class. Muslims are the one who is talking about this from last many years. Even our constitution says that backward classes will get benefits in society. Although its written there but Muslims are still not getting anything because they are Muslims.”

He added, “The question, why to please Muslims as a community? It will get explained by the word 'backwardness'. Do not consider them as Muslims but as a backward and if there is the backwardness existing then reservation is required and it is most awaited. I think Congress is doing right."

V K Malhotra, a senior BJP leader, called such sub-manifesto vows as the Congress's Muslim card. He expressed his concern over the Congress's proposal to provide 4.5 per cent reservation through the existing quota of the OBCs.

“Other OBCs has to suffer because the total reservation cannot be more than 49 per cent so it will be deducted from existing reservation. This is also against SC/STs as it will make them suffer too much because of deduction in their level of reservation. Supreme Court has already held it that this is unconstitutional and cannot be done. But there is not 2/3rd majority so that they can amend the constitution. So, for me it is just a sort of Muslim card they have played.”

Avdhesh Kumar, a senior journalist and an expert on political affairs, opposed such kind of act by the Congress and termed it as a last attempt to rise above the situation of nonentity.

Kumar said, “Each party like SP, BJP, Congress, TMC all are in race, the race of getting Muslim votes. Congress brought it amid elections. It is very unfortunate that such a known party is becoming communal and believing in division of the nation. In 2012 elections, SP promised Muslims that soon they will be provided with 18% reservation. Rangnath Mishra committee has proposed that Muslims should be provided OBC quota reservation. But it is upto Supreme Court whether it approves it or not as Andhra High Court has already rejected it. So it a last attempt of the party to fetch votes. Muslim community always seems to demand three things i.e reservation, Danga bill to be approved and demand of loan from national minority finance commission as it is meant for other minorities only.”

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