Sunday, May 26, 2024

Modi’s hate speech on Muslim reservation; What’s truth? Was PM misrepresenting facts?

In an Islamophobic speech, Prime Minister and BJP’s star campaigner Narendra Modi alleged on Tuesday that the Congress reduced the SC/ST reservation in Andhra Pradesh to implement Muslim reservation. He alleged that this was a pilot project which the Congress wanted to implement across the entire country.

Modi also stated that when the BJP government in Karnataka got an opportunity, the first thing it did was to abolish the Muslim quota, “which was created by snatching it from the STs/SCs.”

What’s the truth? Was PM Modi misrepresenting the facts?

There was no move to reduce SC/ST reservations for the implementation of a Muslim sub-quota or quota in any state by Congress.



The reservation to Muslims in the undivided state of Andhra Pradesh was initiated between 1993 and 1994 under the Congress regime, with Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy at the helm as Chief Minister. During this period, the establishment of a Minorities Welfare Ministry was followed by an order in August 1994, mandating a 5% reservation for Muslims along with 14 other castes in educational institutions and government positions. However, due to electoral defeats in 1994 and 1999, the Congress was unable to implement this order.


In the 2004 elections, reintroducing the 5% reservation for Muslims was a significant campaign promise of the Congress. The rationale was to uplift Muslims who were socially and educationally disadvantaged. Following an election win, led by Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, the party committed to enacting this within two months. The then UPA government at the central level fully supported this move. Ultimately, a 4% reservation was enacted not on religious grounds but based on socioeconomic backwardness, benefitting 14 specific groups identified by the Backward Class Commission. Notably, this quota for Muslims was established without decreasing the reservation percentages for other communities. Nonetheless, legal challenges led to the High Court demanding a reduction to 4%, citing concerns over exceeding the 50% reservation ceiling.


Later in 2004, the UPA government established the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, commonly known as the Ranganath Misra panel. This panel was tasked with defining criteria for identifying socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs) among religious and linguistic minorities and recommending welfare measures. It proposed a 10% reservation for Muslims and 5% for other minorities in government roles and educational institutions that were not minority-specific, suggesting these could be accommodated within the existing OBC quota.


The Congress party, in its manifesto for the 2009 national elections, committed to implementing a Muslim sub-quota within the existing 27% reservation for OBCs in jobs and education nationwide.


On March 25, 2010, the Supreme Court put a hold on the implementation of the 4% Muslim quota in Andhra Pradesh while hearing a public interest litigation. It allowed continued reservations for the previously specified 14 categories under the economically backward classification pending further court decisions. The matter was referred to a Constitutional Bench, which is still pending.


By 2011, during its second term, the UPA’s Minority Affairs Ministry proposed an 8.4% sub-quota within the OBC quota, including a 6% reservation for Muslims, aligning with the recommendations from the Misra panel. This percentage was later reduced to 4.5% for all minorities, following the Mandal Commission’s guidelines.


In the lead-up to the 2012 Uttar Pradesh state elections, the UPA government announced a 4.5% minority sub-quota out of the OBC’s 27% reservation in central government jobs and educational institutions. The Election Commission intervened during the poll period, instructing the Manmohan Singh administration to pause the implementation until after elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh.


The Andhra Pradesh High Court, in May 2012, invalidated the Union government’s 4.5% sub-quota initiative, criticizing it for being religiously motivated rather than based on other substantial criteria. The Union government’s appeal to the Supreme Court was unsuccessful in obtaining a stay on this ruling.


The Congress highlighted in its 2014 general election manifesto that the previous UPA administration had endeavored to improve the plight of backward minorities by aiming to secure their reservation in educational settings and public sector employment.


In March 2023, just before the Karnataka Assembly elections, the BJP-led state government abolished the 4% reservation for Muslims classified under the “2B” backward class category, merging this group into the 10% reservation pool designated for the economically weaker sections (EWS) of the general category. This reservation had been perceived as having been introduced by H D Deve Gowda in 1994 when he served as the Chief Minister of Karnataka, aimed at addressing the socio-educational disadvantages faced by Muslims.


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