Yesterday, in a big move, the Modi government decided to provide 10% reservation in jobs and higher education to people belonging to economically backward upper caste. The decision seems to have put the opposition parties on the back foot ahead of the general elections.
Most of the opposition parties seem to be baffled by this decision and somehow, half-heartedly have supported the government’s stand on this. The supporters of the government also include the Samajwadi party. Senior SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said that SP MP’s will support the Modi government on the issue of upper caste reservation. While the party supported the move, one of its prominent leaders, Azam Khan, has raised the question on the issue of providing reservation and has asked for a separate reservation for Muslims. According to a report by Zee News, the former UP minister has demanded that the government should reserve five percent quota to Muslims out of the proposed 10% reservation promised for the people belonging to the economically weaker section of the upper castes.
According to reports, controversial leader Azam Khan questioned the Modi government on the new reservation policy stating that the BJP government decided to bring in the new policy after it suffered losses in the recent assembly elections. He also added that the optimal time to provide reservation is long gone, the situation of Muslims is far worse than that the Dalits. The former UP minister further said, “If there is no thought about providing reservations for the second largest population of this country in this new policy, then what this reservation means? Once again, the Communal card is being played at the time of the election. This is not a masterstroke; we demand that we should be given 5% to give preferential treatment to us”. Going a step further, Azam Khan asked the Modi government to put Muslims in the Scheduled Caste category as the conditions of Muslims in this country have not improved since independence.
By issuing such statements, Azam Khan seems to be going against the party line, as his party has already extended support to the reservation. Not to forget the fact that Khan is a prominent Muslim face of the party and if someone of his stature goes against the party, it will be a big blow to Samajwadis, prior to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. This is not only a worrisome issue for the unity of the Samajwadi Party but also a challenge to keep its vote base intact.
Earlier, Samajwadi Party (SP) formed an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The collation of SP-BSP has already led to a split in the traditional vote base of the party i.e. Muslims and Yadavs. Since Yadavs (the stronghold of the SP) and Dalits (the stronghold of the BSP) do not usually get along well, it would be interesting to see what come afterward. Also, according to some reports in the state of Uttar Pradesh, most of the cases in SC/ST atrocities act are against Yadavs.
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