5% reservation for Muslims: Sena leader hints at support for quota
Shiv Sena leader and state urban development department minister Eknath Shinde on Saturday indicated that the party, which heads the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition, supports a proposal to set aside 5% of admissions in educational institutions for Muslims.
Shinde said chief minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was in favour of taking all communities on board.
“The high court has allowed 5% Muslim reservation in the state... Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is in favour of taking all the communities ahead. For farmers, the chief minister has announced a farm loan waiver up to Rs 2 lakh and we are on the course of its successful implementation,” Shinde told reporters.
On Friday, minority affairs minister Nawab Malik, replying to a question in the Legislative Council, said the quota can be implemented and a legislation to that effect would be introduced soon.
The Bombay high court had in November 2014 struck down reservations for the Maratha community in government jobs and college admissions and Muslims in jobs, but allowed the state to provide a quota for Muslims in educational institutions. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena government chose not to implement the Muslim quota after coming to power the same year.
Shiv Sena insiders said there had been no change in the party’s stance, noting that it had supported the demand for 5% reservation for Muslims in education during a debate in the Maharashtra assembly in November 2018. Sena’s chief whip Sunil Prabhu had said the party was in favour of reservations for Muslim as well as the Maratha and Dhangar communities provided existing quotas were left untouched.
A Sena minister said on condition of anonymity, “The MVA government is bound by the common minimum programme (CMP) and the programme mentions schemes for the minorities. We are proceeding as per the written word. The Shiv Sen had promised to resolve pending issues of various communities ,including Muslims, in its manifesto [for the October 2019 assembly polls].”
The common minimum programme prepared by the Shiv Sena and its partners in the MVA, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, stated that “the government shall adopt various schemes to eliminate the social, educational and economic backwardness of the minority community and implement Constitutional safeguards for its security welfare in letter and spirit”.
Former NCP legislator Prakash Shendge, who is an Other Backward Class (OBC) leader supporting the Shiv Sena, denied that the quota for Muslims would dilute Maratha or OBC reservations.
“If the quota comes, it would come from the general category ad not affect the OBC or Maratha quota. Such statements are made by the opposition to create a rift between the communities. We welcome the state government’s move,” he said.
Political analyst Surendra Jondhale said the Sena’s stance showed it was being practical. “The issue was lingering during the BJP government because the Marathas were pushing strongly for quotas. This is political pragmatism of the Shiv Sena to go with the quota for minorities. Besides, the Congress and the NCP must have pushed for it and convinced the Sena leadership.” Jondhale said.