Vice-president Hamid Ansari’s call for “affirmative action” for backward Muslims as a “pre-requisite” for equality has re-ignited a prickly debate, with the BJP and right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad slamming Ansari for making a case for reservation.
In a speech on Monday, Ansari had hailed PM Modi’s “sab ka saath sab ka vikas” (progress and participation of all) moto and said “affirmative action” was essential to achieve this “commendable objective”.
Taking a swipe at Ansari, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya accused Ansari of transgressing “constitutional limits”. “The country respects Hamid Ansari as the vice president, but from time to time he makes one feel about his connection with a particular community. This lowers his prestige in the eyes of people,” the BJP leader tweeted. The right-wing VHP said it “condemns this rank communal statement” according to its spokesperson Surendra Jain.
“The official objective of sab ka saath sab ka vikas is commendable; a pre-requisite for this is affirmative action (where necessary) to ensure a common starting point and an ability in all to walk at the required pace,” Ansari had said at a function of All India Majlis-E- Mushawarat, a Muslim social organisation.
Muslim leaders defended Ansari and hit back at right-wing outfits. “The vice-president has only made an objective statement. Right-wing outfits, such as the VHP, have always insulted a well-respected man like the vice-president. He was simply speaking on the basis of our constitutional rights,” Masoom Moradabadi, an invitee to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and a Mushwarat leader told HT.
The organisation’s president Zafarul Islam Khan said the vice-president had articulated a well-recognised development deficit of Muslims, India’s largest minority. During the previous government’s tenure, the landmark Sachar Committee had revealed that Muslims came out pretty much at the bottom all socio-economic indicators.