In a bid to woo the most backward classes (MBCs) in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Saturday promised to introduce a quota for the communities if it comes to power in next year’s assembly elections in the state.
The announcement came after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi assured the representatives of MBCs in a meeting earlier in the day that his party will provide reservation for these groups within the 27% quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) if voted to power in February-March 2017 polls.
The party will also incorporate the demand in its manifesto for upcoming state polls, Congress general secretary in-charge of UP Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
Gandhi, according to Azad, was told by the MBC leaders that only a section of the backward classes are the biggest beneficiaries of reservation while the most backwards or extremely backward classes have failed to reap any benefits.
In an apparent dig at Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, Azad said benefits of reservations have gone to only some dominant castes while the MBCs have neglected in the state.
This is not the first time that the Congress has talked about quota within quota when assembly elections in the country’s most populous and politically important state are being held. In 2012, the Congress-led UPA government announced that 4.5% of the existing 27% quota for OBCs at the Centre will be reserved for minorities.
Later in the midst of the 2012 UP elections, then law minister Salman Khurshid announced that if elected, the Congress will set aside a 9% sub-quota for backward Muslims in UP government jobs and claimed that more than eight Muslim castes would benefit from the move. However, the promise failed to bring any electoral dividends for the Congress as it managed to secure just 28 out of the total 403 seats.
But on Saturday, Azad said the Congress has been instrumental in bringing reservation within reservation for the MBCs in almost 10 states, including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Asked how much of the 27% reservation for the backwards will go to MBCs, he said a high-level panel would look into the issue in a time-bound manner to suggest modalities, as had happened in some states earlier.