Muslim leaders agree that the community could do with some quotas but differ on how to go about it. While some want the affluent among them to be kept out of the ambit of quota, others want the quota for Scheduled Castes (SCs) to be extended to the community.
On November 22, Dalit Muslims will meet under the banner of the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahz to demand the extension of the SC quota for Muslims.
"Those Muslims who perform the same duties as SCs should not be clubbed with other Muslim backwards who are entitled to reservation under the OBC quota," said Janata Dal-United MP Anwar Ali. Party president Sharad Yadav is also expected to take part in the meeting.
Others like Ramvilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party want reservation for the entire community and have urged the government to bring in a constitutional amendment in the winter session of Parliament. He has the support of religious leaders like MMM Madani of the Jamiat-ul-a-Hind and Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Bukhari.
Ali, however, explained that extending reservation to the entire community would mean helping saffron forces make it a communal issue. He said the benefits of reservation can be extended to the poorest of poor among Muslims.
He suggested that the Bihar model of OBC reservation—dividing the 27 per cent into two categories, one for the better placed and the other for the socially—weaker among them—be implemented all over the country.
Ali said there was also the fear that rich Muslims would usurp the benefits of quota if it was extended to the entire community. The way out, he said, was to demand a sub-classification of reservation so that all castes benefit from the affirmative action.