Muslims to get 10% quota in OBC: West Bengal cabinet

By Manzar Bilal,,

Kolkata: Yielding to the pressure by the Muslim community in the state, the West Bengal Government today decided to reserve 10% quota for socially, educationally and economically backward Muslims under OBC category. The state cabinet took the decision today in Kolkata.

Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind had launched a state-wide campaign demanding 20% reservation for the Muslim community in the state. Muslims constitute 30% of the state population. Rather than giving reservation to entire community, the state government decided to give 10% of OBC quota. The government has already decided to include more Muslim groups in the OBC category. Muslims have only 2% share of reservation under the OBC in West Bengal while half of the Hindus, who are the 71% of the state population, are enjoying reservation as SC/ST.

Avoiding the constitutional bar which is against religion-based reservations state government had made up mind to bring as many Muslim castes in the OBC category as possible. Currently, only 12 Muslim castes are under the OBC. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has reportedly asked West Bengal Backward Classes Commission to identify another 28 Muslim castes to include them in OBC list. If it will be implemented nearly 10% reservation will be available for Muslims in the state.

According to Sayed Masudal Hussain, member of West Bengal Backward Classes Commission presently Muslim castes like Ansaris (weavers), Qureshis (butchers) are among the 12 Muslim castes under OBC reservation. But now castes of Muslims like Beldar (grave diggers), Abdal (sweepers), Mahaldar (fishermen), Kahar (palanquin bearers) and many others will be able to get reservation through the OBC quota. The work in this regard is going on.

Siddiqullah Chaudhary, who is on a three-day campaign in the state for Muslim reservation, has expressed his happiness at the decision. He, however, said that until the government issued notification their movement will continue. He reiterated his demand that the Muslim community should be given 20% reservation.

As soon as the news about the cabinet decision spread Chaudhary’s phone didn’t stop ringing. People and villagers were congratulating him for the success.

However, the state government decision is seen as part of vote bank politics as the Left Front government is facing fast erosion in minority vote. The move is to catch the erosion. The ruling alliance was humiliated in the Lok Sabha elections and some assembly by-polls.