The UPA government is firming up plans to give reservation in jobs and education to underprivileged Muslims at the national level, a move likely to shore up the ruling Congress' support base among the 150-million community ahead of the 2014 polls.
The government will take the OBC route for granting reservation benefits to Muslims, as promised by the Congress in its 2009 poll manifesto, a person familiar with the development told HT.
The minority affairs ministry headed by Salman Khurshid, in a ministerial note, has recommended to the home ministry to consider the OBC option contained in the Ranganath Misra report on reservation to minorities at the national level.
Khurshid is said to be keen on a national model of affirmative action that will neither "fall foul of the Constitution" nor the "courts".
The proposal recommends re-jigging the 27% "quota" in jobs and employment for OBC so that more underprivileged Muslims, among minorities, find room. OBCs are a clutch of 1,963 disadvantaged groups.
The Ranganath Misra-led National Commission on Backward Religious and Linguistic Minorities has recommended 15% reservation for minorities -of which 10% for Muslims -- in education and jobs. In case this is difficult to achieve, it proposes breaking up of the 27% quota to give minorities an 8.4% share, of which 6% for Muslims.
The proposal is to come up with a model to expand the share of Muslims in the OBC quota, HT has learnt.
At present, there are 21 Muslim groups like Ansari and Ganchi in the Central List of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) that has 100 communities in all, who get 27% reservation in education and jobs.
The clamour for reservation among Muslims has grown louder after the high-level Sachar report highlighted stark disadvantages faced by the community and the Ranganath Misra recommended reservations as the way forward.