Political Storm in Maharashtra Over Quota to Muslims in Education

Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik recently said that the state will provide 5 percent quota to Muslims in education.

3 min read
From left to right: Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and Devendra Fadnavis. 

BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday, 3 March, said Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray should not give “vague” replies on the 5 percent Muslim quota issue and declare “with courage” that his government will not bring law granting reservation to the minority community.

Fadnavis made the remark after Thackeray, during a press conference earlier in the day, said he has not yet received the proposal regarding giving quota to Muslims and that the Shiv Sena-led government is yet to take any decision on it.

Thackeray made the comments after Maharashtra Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik recently said in the legislative council that the state government will provide 5 percent quota to Muslims in education.

Malik, an NCP leader, had also said the state government will ensure that a legislation to this effect is passed soon.

The NCP and the Congress, both proponents of Muslim quota, are constituents of the Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

‘Say it With Courage’: Fadnavis Attacks Uddhav

Asked about Thackeray's remarks on the issue, Fadnavis said instead of making comments at the press conference, the chief minister should make a statement in the legislature which is currently having its budget session.

The Leader of the Opposition in the assembly said that Malik's opinion is the official position of the government as the minister had talked about giving quota in the council.

“So, instead of making vague comments in the press conference, the chief minister should say in the council that it is not his view (the one expressed by chief minister),” he said.

“The chief minister gave vague answers during the press conference, saying the proposal has not come to him. Your minister (Malik) only has said it,” Fadnavis told reporters outside the legislature building complex in Mumbai.

The BJP leader maintained there is no provision in the Constitution for religion-based reservation in government jobs or education.

“Say with courage that you will not give the quota, that the Constitution doesn't accept quota based on religion. Hence, we (the government) will not bring law granting quota,” the former Chief Minister said.

Fadnavis claimed that if given within the 50 percent ceiling set by the Supreme Court, the Muslim quota will affect the existing reservation granted to OBCs.

“And if given outside it, it will affect Maratha quota,” he added.


Meanwhile, BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar on Tuesday said the party would back the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government if the NCP and Congress tried to pressurise the Sena to grant Muslim quota by pulling out. Mungantiwar told reporters that his party was of the view that reservation cannot be offered on the basis of religion.

“The stand the Shiv Sena has taken is right, they are talking about the Constitution. The Constitution does not provide for reservation based on religion,” the former state finance minister said.

“What is the crime of Sikhs and Christians if reservation is to be given (only to Muslims) on the basis of religion?” he asked.

The Union government has already carved out a 10 per cent quota for the economically backward classes which covers Muslims and Christians too, the BJP leader said.

“I think Uddhav-ji has taken a very good stand. Our alliance with the Sena was based on ideology. The Sena should not worry if the Congress and NCP are pressurising it on the issue,” he said.

“Even if they leave the government, we will support the government within the limits of this subject,” Mungantiwar added.

‘Decision To be Taken After Talks With Allies’: Maharashtra Congress

Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat on Tuesday said providing reservation to Muslims is his party's commitment and a decision on it will be taken after discussing the issue with the other alliance partners in the state government.

Thorat, who is the state revenue minister, said what Thackeray stated is true as the issue has not been discussed yet.

“We (Cong-NCP combine) had given reservation to Muslims in the past. It did not move ahead in the last five years, but it is our commitment. It is part of the manifesto of the Congress and NCP. Hence, we want to give it,” he said.

“But it is true that there has been no discussion on it,” Thorat told reporters.

He said the issue will be discussed in the coordination committee of the Maha Vikas Aghadi and the Cabinet before any decision is taken in this connection.

(With inputs from PTI)

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