Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, said on Friday that a quota for Muslims would be unconstitutional and affect OBC and Maratha reservations. He also pointed out that the Constitution does not have any provision for reservation based on religion.
“If additional reservation is given (to Muslims), the OBCs stand to lose their quota. Maratha reservation too will be affected,” Fadnavis told mediapersons outside the Assembly.
“Even if the state government tries to consider reservation for Muslims, it cannot make any change in the existing quota for Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes. Therefore, any attempt to accommodate the 5 per cent quota for Muslims would have to be from the existing OBC or Maratha quotas. This is the apprehension voiced by OBC and Maratha organisations,” he added.
“The BJP is against Muslim reservation. The Constitution drafted by Dr B R Ambedkar does not have any provision for reservation based on religion. Therefore, any move by the government to consider the same would not withstand constitutional and legal scrutiny,” Fadnavis said.
“At present, Muslims are availing benefits under the 10 per cent quota given by Centre for the economically weaker sections… Under the existing OBC quota, a sizeable section of Muslims from backward class is deriving benefits,” he added.
Questioning BJP’s former ally Shiv Sena’s stand on the issue, Fadnavis said, “The NCP minister (Nawab Malik) has categorically stated that Muslim reservation has the consent of all ruling allies, including Shiv Sena. There is no reason to not believe a minister who makes a statement on the floor of the House.”
“It is a pointer to the settlement Shiv Sena has made with Congress and NCP to come to power in the state. We should know on what issues Shiv Sena has made compromise and given up its ideology to form the government,” he added.
Claiming that BJP’s stand against Muslim reservation was not discriminatory, Fadnavis said: “In the past, when the Andhra Pradesh government had given Muslims reservation, it was struck down by the Supreme Court.”
In July 2014, then Congress-NCP government had given five per cent reservation to Muslims in government jobs and educational institutes through an Ordinance. While the Bombay High Court, in November 2014, had upheld five per cent reservation in government and government-aided educational institutes for Muslims, it had stayed the reservation given in private educational institutes and government jobs. The Ordinance had lapsed in November 2014, as it was not converted into a law by the subsequent BJP-led government that came to power in the state.
“The basic premise on which the Congress-NCP regime gave Muslims reservation was shaky. There were two versions — either the quota is acceptable both in jobs and education or is valid legally and constitutionally. If the law does not conform to these parameters, it would never be acceptable,” Fadnavis said.
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