Muslim leaders in the state are upset with the government over doing away with the four percent Backward Classes (BC) reservation given to Muslims.
On 24 March, making a crucial political move before the Assembly elections, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai's Cabinet increased reservation, provided under the BC list, for the Panchamasali Lingayats and Vokkaligas. The state also clearly demarcated sub-caste reservation among Scheduled Castes. Read here.
Muslims, who form 12.92 percent population in the state, will now have to claim reservation under Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota and not 2B category of the BC list.
For now, the government has not promised any demarcated percentage for the Muslims within the EWS quota.
What Do Muslim Leaders Think?
Speaking to The Quint, K Rahman Khan, former Union Minister for Minority Affairs, said, "This is an exhibition of Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP’s) anti-Muslim policy. This reservation of four percent under the category of 2B has been there for the last 30 years."
Khan added, "BJP has been in power before as well. The reservation had stood the test of the day. It was never challenged. Now, this is being done to please certain sections of society because of electoral politics."
"The position of Muslims in education and employment is far below the SC/STs. Bommai government’s move of scrapping reservations just two to three days before elections are announced shows their character. But this will be challenged and will not be accepted.”K Rahman Khan, Union Minister for Minority Affairs
Further, Maulavi Maqsood Imran of Jamia Masjid and a member of the Ulema Council, told The Quint, "This decision of the Karnataka government is completely unconstitutional. The reservation given to Muslims was not on the basis of religion but on the basis of caste. We completely condemn this hasty, ill-thought-out move. There has been no debate or discussion on this with anyone."
Congress vs BJP
Targeting the BJP government over the move, Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar, said, "Constitution gave an opportunity to protect all communities according to their population. BJP is trying to divide the country.
Condemning the decision, Shivakumar added, "As soon as Congress party forms government in May we will scrap this on the first day. Even Home Minister has supported this decision."
He added that the Lingayat and Vokkaliga community is rejecting this as well.
Lashing out at the Congress, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said, “The reservation for minorities is not constitutionally valid. There is no provision in the Constitution to give reservation based on religion...The BJP does not believe in appeasement. So, it decided to change the reservation."
Shah said this during his address to two election rallies on Sunday, 26 March, in Gorata village in Bidar district and Gabbur in Raichur district.
The EWS Category
The state government led by Janata Dal (Secular) patriarch HD Deve Gowda, in 1994, had fixed the reservation for Muslims in the state at 4 percent, and an order to this effect was passed in 1995.
Karnataka has four categories of backward classes – 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B based on economic, social, and educational status. The 2A category includes the most backward, followed by 2B, 3A and 3B.
Meanwhile, the EWS category comprises Brahmins, Jains, Aryavaishyas, Nagarthas, and Modaliars, who constitute around four percent of the state’s population.
Now the Muslim community will be added to this group. However, only those people who are from families with a total annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh, have agricultural land less than five acres in area, and a house of less than 1,000 sq ft, will be eligible for the EWS reservation.