10 percent Muslim Reservation in West Bengal

published on February 8, 2010

CPM goes further: Reserves 10 per cent in West Bengal

Saugar Sengupta | Kolkata – Daily Pioneer

In an apparent effort to garner votes in the coming municipal and later Assembly polls and to offset the adverse impact of events like forcible acquisition of agricultural land for industry that resulted in a series of electoral reverses for the ruling Left Front in West Bengal, the Marxist Government on Monday declared 10 per cent reservation for Muslims.

Though Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Monday declared his Government’s decision to accord special status to the “non-creamy layer” of Muslims, the decision was officially approved at a Left Front meeting last week.

“We have decided to implement the recommendations of the Ranganath Mishra Commission report without waiting for the Centre to implement it,” the Chief Minister said, adding his Government was busy identifying the sections which would thus be eligible to get job reservations.

By non-creamy layer, the Government meant the economically and socially backward and educationally weaker sections of the Muslim society, the Chief Minister said, adding the State already gave reservations to the OBCs, SCs and STs. Muslims would only be an addition to that quota.

In that case, the Government would identify the Muslim OBCs also, officials observed triggering some kind of discontent among the clerics. According to Maulana Fazlur, a cleric, “this is an effort to drive a wedge in the Muslim society as there is no caste distinction among the Muslims.”

However, State Left Front chairman and CPI(M) State secretary Biman Bose said the Government was duty bound to better the condition of the Muslims. “This is one step towards achieving that goal,” he maintained, underscoring the latest efforts had no connection with polls.

Incidentally, the Monday’s decision comes on the same day when the Andhra Pradesh High Court struck down similar reservations for the Muslims in education and jobs.

The State goes to civic polls in May-June this year with 82 municipalities, including the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, electing their new boards. The results of the municipal elections would have a great bearing on the 2011 Assembly election and is being seen as the “semi-final round” before the State elections.

Muslims occupy about 25 per cent of the State’s demographic chart. However, going by their polling pattern they could account for as high as 33 per cent of the State’s voting population.

Opposition Trinamool Congress that had severely dented the Left’s Muslim vote bank in the past couple of years was, however, non-committal on the State Government’s latest move.

On whether the Muslims would start leaning back at the Left, RSP leader Goswami said the decision “should not be connected to polls only. It has a social effect also.”

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