New Delhi: A court verdict quashing 4% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for underprivileged Muslims in Andhra Pradesh has come as a setback for the ruling Congress party, its senior leaders say.
The Andhra Pradesh high court’s Monday ruling throws a spanner in the Congress plan to introduce quotas for the minority community nationwide, a move to consolidate Muslim support in poll-bound states, they say.
But analysts argue the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre can still override the ruling and implement the quota if it is sincere about the initiative.
Reservation issues: A panel headed by former chief justice Ranganath Mishra had suggested a 10% quota for Muslims. Hindustan Times
Muslims constitute 14% of India’s 1.2 billion population. The Rajinder Sachar committee, which studied their social, economic and educational status, found the community “exhibits deficits and deprivation in practically all dimensions of development.”
“It (Andhra Pradesh ruling) is a setback to the party’s attempts to create goodwill among Muslims, especially at a time when we are focusing on states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” said a Congress general secretary who did not want to be identified.
The party’s manifesto for the 2009 general election had promised extending reservations offered to minorities in Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh countrywide.
Minority affairs minister Salman Khursheed had said the UPA had been awaiting the Andhra Pradesh high court verdict before implementing the recommendations of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM).
The report of the panel, headed by former chief justice Ranganath Mishra, had suggested a 10% quota for Muslims in jobs and education.
The state government said it will appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court. Senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh, V. Kishorechandra Deo said the party would study “the grounds” on which the court had quashed the act.
But Zoya Hasan, a professor of social sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, said linking the NCRLM report with the Andhra Pradesh verdict showed the Congress was not serious about implementing it. “If...(quota is implemented), it will help them get goodwill among the community and thus help them politically,” she said.
Firoz Bakht Ahmed, an expert on social and educational issues, also said the Muslim community should realize the promised sops would never materialize. “It’s all just an eyewash,” Ahmed said.
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party said the court’s decision exposed the Congress “game plan” of fooling minorities. “(The) Congress knew it well while announcing this before the elections that it will not stand the test of the law,” a party leader said.
But Imtiaz Ahmad, author and former professor of sociology at JNU, is still optimistic. “I dont think it’s a setback for the Congress because Parliament can overwrite the judiciary. It is for the party to build a consensus on that,” he said.
Santosh K. Joy has contributed to this story.