Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reservation for Indian Muslims


It is well said that “large kingdoms and small hearts do not go together.” This holds good with India when it comes to reservations for Muslims in Parliament, Assemblies, employment and education. Come elections, all parties including BJP try to appease Muslim-voters like giving lollypop to a crying child. The trump card of Muslim reservations is played by ruling parties at the Centre as well as in the States. Commissions are appointed, recommendations are made, hollow promises are made just to mollify Muslims and garner their votes. After elections are over, some legal faults are found in the committee reports to put the issue on the back burner. This is the track record of reservation for Muslims to this day.

Cases in point are those of Sachar Committee Report and Ranganath Mishra Commission report. Both the reports have made a strong case for reservation to uplift Muslims from their socio-economic plight. But still unwanted debates and discussions are going on, wasting time and resources and playing with the emotions of Muslims.

The UPA Government also does not seem to be whole-heartedly and genuinely interested in eradicating Muslims’ socio-economic backwardness. Otherwise it could have promulgated an “ordinance” and get it done. There is no need of introducing a bill in Parliament and passing time in debates and discussions. If the UPA Government does so, hardly any party save and except the Hindutva parties will oppose it.

The Congress Party seems to have taken the Muslim voters in its stride. The time is coming for the Muslims to show that they carry some political weight and political acumen. They cannot be so easily fooled. So far Muslims have voted to the Congress Party to defeat the communal parties like BJP and Shiv Sena, etc. Now the time has come for Muslims to take promise from the UPA in advance and vote it to power. Let not Muslim voters be swept away by hollow-promises and catchy sloganeering.

At present the need for reservation for Muslim MPs and MLAs on a par with SCs/STs is very much urgent because the delimitation of constituencies is so calculatedly done that thickly populated Muslim areas are so divided that not a single Muslim candidate gets elected. It is a political betrayal done to Muslims in the name of reorganisation of constituencies. Muslims are not so naïve as not to understand this political gimmick played on them. This is the core reason that the strength of Muslim MPs and MLAs is decreasing in the political corridors. Muslims therefore should not demand anything less than political reservations if they have any iota of political acumen.

Therefore Muslims should awake and arise and read the writings on the wall. They simply should not be satisfied if any party gives them some tickets to contest. The need of the hour is to see that some seats are reserved for Muslims on a par with SC/STs. This could be the only lasting solution for Muslims to come to the political mainstream.

Muslims should note that once their strength in Parliament was 82 and now it has come down to 29 and if we do not demand for reservation in Parliament and Assemblies it may slip down to nil. That could be an end of political saga of Indian Muslims.

In all forthcoming elections Muslims should unite and see that they do not fall prey to any kind of cosmetic populist gimmick। They should not rest until they get reservation in politics, employment and education. We are a major-minority .Our voice needs to be heard by any party that wants to come to power. Muslim votes are tilting votes. They are king-makers and they should muster their political weight for reservation otherwise reservation will simply become a mirage.

[Prof. S.A. Qudsi is former Principal and Lecturer in Political Science, Anjuman Arts, Science and Commerce College, Bijapur, Karnataka]

with thanks radianceweekly.


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