Saturday, July 07, 2007

Congress gameplan for Muslim quota in AP

The Congress government in Andhra Pradesh is at it again. After being rebuffed by the courts earlier in an attempt to implement a separate reservation quota for Muslims, they are trying again. The constitution is clear, reservations were only considered due to the centuries of discrimination against the Scheduled Castes and Tribes resulting in their being very repressed, and reservation could be one of the measures to bring them up. Because no one wants to be seen as removing reservation, it is likely to be with us for a very long time.
However, what causes a problem is when the reservations are seen as a pure political tool, and this is what the Congress is guilty of. The reservations for OBC's were also first implemented by V P Singh as a move to checkmate his ambitious deputy Devi Lal, and have been sought to be extended in the education area by Arjun Singh as a measure by the wily thakur to get a support base for himself. However, the Congress, being a broad based party has always suffered from not being able to fully tom-tom its reservation agenda due to fear of alienating other castes (as seen freshly in the Gujjar-Meena issue). In this case as well, the Congress will end up with egg on its face.

The Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to promulgate an ordinance on 4% Muslim quota, despite it having been struck down twice, is seen as part of Congress strategy to gamble on a clutch of double-edged issues to consolidate its support base for bigger battles ahead.
The Congress leadership is anticipating judicial intervention even though the state has repackaged religious reservation on Mandal lines, as passed by the AP cabinet on Wednesday. The insistence on Muslim quota, despite serious apprehensions, may confound observers but a senior AP leader said it was meant to prove its commitment to the community’s welfare. Having won the points with Muslims with three attempts, the state is unlikely to push it further in case of a fresh judicial roadblock.

This is pure politics , and nothing else. In order to show the Muslim community that the Congress is the one that is concerned about their welfare, the political party will try to do something that they know is not going to succeed. But as usual, these are short-term measures.
In order to get actual development of the Muslim community, the Government (Congress in this case) needs to take actual measures that result in development, such as providing good education, helping the artisans who are affected by rapid industrialization, providing good role models, and so on. The basic problem with reservations is that it provides a good handle to the political community to claim that they are working for the benefit of disadvantaged communities without having to do any actual work.
In addition, this move to separate the Muslim community based on reservation benefit available or not is deplorable. Hinduism has tolerated in the past severe discrimination among its adherents on the basis of caste, but Islam has severe strictures against any discrimination among its adherents, and the state should not try and implement some. It is time that the Muslim community saw through such pretenses and favor people who actually work for their benefit.
But the Congress will continue on this line, it needs to line up support for the AP next elections in 2009, and with its relations with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti on a nadir, it needs more measures; apparently just working for people and improving their lot is not enough.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:58 PM