Seeking to broaden her caste agenda, UP chief minister Mayawati on Sunday said at a Vaishya-Rajput-Muslim rally the reservation for the OBCs should go beyond 27% at the central level in order to accommodate backward Muslims.
She also said a national reservation policy should be formulated to pave the way for a unified reservation system.
"The 27% other backward classes (OBC) quota in government jobs and education should be increased through constitutional amendment to include backward Muslims. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will support the amendment bill in Parliament," she said.
Though the Vaishyas are largely upper-caste and the support base of the BJP, some segments among them have the benefit of reservation. The Samajwadi Party banks heavily on the Muslims. The Rajputs have no reservation. In UP also, the reservation for OBCs is 27% in jobs and education.
"The Vaishyas were forced to pay goonda tax when the SP was in power. Under BSP rule the trading community is flourishing," she said.
Nearly 300,000 people attended the rally. The selection of the participants was done assembly constituency by assembly constituency (there are 430 seats in UP). They were brought in buses, light vehicles and 14 trains.
Mayawati said: "In 1995 my government issued an order that caste certificates would be given to the backward castes among Muslims. The backward Muslims are getting the benefit of reservation in UP."
It looked like the launching of a full-fledged election campaign. Sensing that the poll dates would be announced soon, Mayawati told her supporters they would not be able to celebrate her birthday on January 15 as they used to do in previous years. "If you wish to give me a birthday gift, ensure that I become chief minister again."