"Islam and Christianity are alien" to India and, therefore, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) feels people from the minority groups, even if their socio-economic condition is low, should not be given the privilege of quota in jobs, legislative bodies and education, a party official said on Friday.
At a press conference in New Delhi, BJP's newly-appointed spokesperson Ramnath Kovind called for scrapping of the Ranganath Misra commission report that recommends 15 per cent quota in government jobs for socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities in India.
The National Commission on Religious and Linguistic Minorities, headed by Justice Ranganath Misra, former chief justice of India, has in its report also recommended inclusion of Muslim and Christian converts as Scheduled Castes and given a quota to that category.
"No, that is not possible," said Kovind. "Including Muslims and Christians in the Scheduled Castes category will be unconstitutional."
Asked how Sikh Dalits were enjoying the quota privilege in the same category, Kovind said: "Islam and Christianity are alien to the nation."
He said that "it is very well known" that convert Dalit Christians and Muslims get better education in convent schools.
"The educational level of Scheduled Caste children remains much lower than that of convert Dalits and Muslims. The children of converts will grab major share of reservation in government jobs. They would become eligible to contest elections on seats reserved for Scheduled Castes. This would encourage conversion and fatally destroy the fabric of Indian society," he said.
"The Misra commission report should be scrapped because (its recommendations) will jeopardise the interests of Scheduled Castes," he said.
The Misra panel report, which was tabled in parliament Dec 18, 2009, has defined religious and linguistic minorities as backward classes and recommended 15 percent reservation for all minorities in jobs, education and welfare schemes.
Of India's 1.2 billion population, Muslims form the largest minority at close to 14 per cent, followed by Christians at 2.3 per cent, Sikhs at 1.9 per cent, Buddhists at 0.8 per cent, Jains at 0.4 per cent and others including Parsis at 0.6 per cent.
"Within the recommended 15 per cent earmarked seats in institutions shall be 10 per cent for the Muslims and the remaining 5 per cent for the other minorities," the report had suggested.
The recommendations have triggered a row with Hindu parties severely opposing it. The government itself is doubtful about the implementation of the recommendations.
However, the Supreme Court in a ruling Thursday gave legitimacy to minority reservation by allowing four percent quota in jobs for backward Muslims in Andhra Pradesh. This could give a push to the Congress to go ahead with implementing the Ranganath Misra report recommendations.