Statement issued by the Central Secretariat of Popular Front of India

On the issue of Muslim Reservation in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh
Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
Bangalore: Popular Front of India welcomes the decision of the West Bengal state government to earmark 10% for ‘Backward Muslims’, even though a specific reaction to the issue is not possible now because an executive order is still awaited. However we learn that the government plan is to include much more Muslims occupational groups to the list of Other Backward Classes who enjoy at present 7% reservation in employment. So far only 2% share of OBC reservation is enjoyed by Muslims who constitute 26% of the state population. It is not clear whether the new quota will be over and above the existing 7% raising the total OBC quota into 17% and also whether the new 10% quota will be separately reserved for Muslims.

We would like to bring to the notice of West Bengal government that a class of people is eligible for reservation based on their relative backwardness and the Muslim community in the state is proved to be more backward than all other communities including the Hindu OBCs who now enjoy reservation. Hence it is unjust to exclude any section of Muslim community from reservation and to limit the benefit to a few groups among them. As it prevails in Kerala and Karnataka since many years, there are no constitutional and legal constrains to declare the entire Muslim community as a backward class eligible for reservation.

According to the available official statistics, the present share of Muslims in state government is below 4%. Hence in order to achieve the target of adequate representation on par with population strength, the new quota of10% is not sufficient. We demand the state government to make the Muslim quota minimum 20%. The Misra Commission has recommended 10% in the central service and education based on the all India Muslim population of 13.4%. It is also worth notice that Kerala Muslims are entitled to get 12% reservation, even though their population percentage is less than that in West Bengal. Let the West Bengal take the model from Kerala which is also being ruled by CPI (M) led Left Front.

Also we urge the West Bengal government to extend the job reservation benefit to all quasi-government sections, cooperative sector, companies with government share and public sector undertakings. Separate quota of seats are to be reserved for Muslims in admission to educational institutions at all levels including all under -graduate, post graduate, technical and professional courses.

The decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court which once again quashed state government decision to earmark 4% reservation to Muslims is unfortunate and reveals the communal and casteist bias that governs a section of the judiciary. The observation that Andhra Pradesh act is religion-specific and potentially an encouragement to conversion is baseless and highly prejudiced. This reference to conversion shows the influence of Hindutva mentality and is unwarranted.

At the end we wish to point out that the developments in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh are indications to continue the struggles of the Muslim community for the fulfillment of their right to equity and justice. Popular Front of India has began a two -month long National Campaign for Muslim Reservation from Pune on 31 January 2010. As part of this campaign, our West Bengal state committee has started a caravan today from Kolkota which will conclude with a Mass Meeting at Musrshidabad on 20th after covering all the Muslim dominated regions in the state. Similar programmes are being undertaken in other states also. We call upon all to join us in this campaign for Muslim Reservation.

For the Central Secretariat

O M A Salam

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