TDP wooing Muslims by promising 4% political reservation

By Mohammed Siddique,
Hyderabad: Though the elections in Andhra Pradesh are still few months away, the political parties have started wooing various sections of society in the right earnest. If the Congress party is promising backward classes one-third reservations in the legislative bodies, the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has focused its attention on the Muslim community which constitutes 10% of the population.

TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu, who had to pay a very heavy price for joining hands with the BJP in the last elections and supporting the NDA government at the center in 1999, is now trying to undo the damage by showing attractive promises on the minority community.

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Addressing TDP’s state minority cell meeting Naidu has made several major promises including 4% political reservation to Muslim community and an annual budget of RS 600 crore for the welfare of the community.

Under the political reservation, he has promised that the minority community will be given 4% seats in the state assembly, Parliament, municipal and Panchayat bodies including Mandal and Zilla Parishad.

The Congress government has already provided 4% reservation to the backward groups of Muslim community in education and government jobs. The quota, however, is still caught in litigation. Now Naidu is promising to extend it to the political level.

TDP is forced to aggressively woo the minority community as Congress party has strengthened its hold over the community during the last four years by fulfilling its promise of four percent quota and increasing the budget of minority welfare to Rs 180 crore from Rs 28 crore, and providing scholarship to the Muslim students on par with the other backward classes students and free education to the Muslim students of professional colleges by reimbursing the fee amount.

Naidu also committed his party to protect the waqf land and promised that the waqf land already allotted to private companies and others in violation of rules will be taken back and restored to the Waqf Board. He said that a Waqf Tribunal will be set up to protect the Waqf land. He strongly condemned the Congress government for plundering the Waqf properties in the state and handing over thousands of acres of Waqf land to the private companies at a throw away price.

Naidu said that he will involve minority community leaders in preparation of the party manifesto so that the schemes and programs for the welfare of the community could be included in it.