Economist contests Bengal govt's claim of 10% quota to Muslims
TNN | May 2, 2011, 02.14am IST
NEW DELHI: As Bengal elections enter a critical phase with serious challenge to Left's Muslim vote base, economist Abusaleh Shariff questioned the claims that the state had given 10% reservation to Muslims under the OBC category.
Shariff said the talk of exclusive religious quota was erroneous since the state's notification did not mention any religion but only the categories – backwards and most backwards.
While a chunk of Muslim groups have been added to most backward category with OBC quota too hiked from 7% to 17%, Shariff argued, "Muslims cannot form the entire 10% of OBCs as is being claimed." He said the claim that it would benefit 85% of Muslim population was misleading in the absence of caste census.
A paper by Shariff on the neglect of Muslims in the state, released ahead of Bengal polls in March, gave ammunition to Trinamool Congress and invited objections from the Left. His fresh attack on Left's claims can only trigger more controversy.
Shariff called Bengal's sudden rush for Mandal philosophy as crass politics, asking why did the state neglect OBC reservation for so many years. "Even now, Left's discomfiture with caste-based OBC reservation is evident... it remains shy of exhausting the full quota of 27% despite having now enlisted more than 100 caste groups as OBCs. The OBC quota in the state is only 17%," he said
Renewing his attack on the Left over the minority question, the economist cited the recruitment figures in Kolkata to rebuff the Left. During 2009-11, he claimed, Kolkata Police appointed 11 Muslim sergeants out of 511, Fire service appointed nine Muslims out of 605, the Food Corporation of India 12 out of 564 and Home Guards 35 out of 1,607.
He said per capita average landholding among Muslims was the lowest at 0.2 hectare, quoting the 61st round of NSSO report prepared in 2008.