Government mulling quota for Muslims within OBCs: Salman Khurshid

New Delhi : In a significant move ahead of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Law Minister Salman Khurshid Thursday said the government is considering reservation to backward Muslims within the 27 percent quota fixed for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and a decision on the issue will be taken soon.

Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Khurshid said a move on fixing a quota for backward Muslims within the OBC quota would come before the cabinet “soonest” but did not give a timeline.

“Of 27 percent OBC quota in jobs, the government is examining to fix a quota for backward Muslims,” he said.

He said the issue has been on the government’s agenda for the last two years and a decision was pending.

The Congress also backed the government on the move to provide reservations to minorities within OBC quota.

Khurshid pointed to the promise made in party’s manifesto for 2009 polls which talked of extending reservation to minorities to the central level.

“For having reservation within reservation for backward minorities as done in Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, we are observing it as it is our commitment to do it. We are hopeful of fulfilling our commitment. We are working on it,” he said.

Asked why the decision was coming ahead of assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Khurshid said that work cannot stop if elections were round the corner.

“Should we stop working ahead of the polls in the state… Whatever we think is our responsibility, we are doing,” he said.

He said the United Progressive Alliance II government had completed half its term and has to take stock of what it has done and what is left to be done.

Khurshid also took a dig at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati saying she can provide quotas to minorities in the state.

“If she is so concerned, she could do the same for jobs in Uttar Pradesh,” he said.

Congress spokesman Raashid Alvi said the government was working at a fast pace to implement its promise for reservation to minorities.

“Government is working at a very fast pace to implement this part of manifesto so that they (minorities) get their share among other backward classes,” Alvi said.

The Congress manifesto had said that the party was committed to ensuring that the constitutional rights of minorities were protected fully and their representation in public administration increases.

“The Indian National Congress has pioneered reservations for minorities in Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in government employment and education on the basis of their social and economic backwardness. We are committed to adopt this policy at the national level,” the manifesto said.

Uttar Pradesh is scheduled to go for polls next year and Congress has launched its campaign in the state. The announcement is being linked to the party’s efforts to woo minorities in the crucial election.

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