Union Minister for Minority Affairs Najma Heptulla on Saturday courted controversy by saying reservation in jobs and educational institutions was not needed for Muslims.
Heptulla said children from the community should be made capable of standing on their own feet without any help, and added that reservations should not be based on religious considerations. Asked about the matter by some members of the community who took exception to her views, the minister appeared to backtrack and said this was a ‘state subject’.
Heptulla was in Mumbai for a programme on advocacy for the schemes and programmes of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, the National Minority Development and Finance Corporation and Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills.
The Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra recently passed a Bill in the Assembly enabling reservations for the Maratha community but left out the earlier proposed quota for Muslims.
“Why should we talk about reservations? Why don’t we think about making our children so capable that they can get good jobs without any reservation? In case of reservation, they will get jobs of clerks, peons, teachers, etc. Such quotas will not help in the case of jobs with multinationals and private firms. I am a woman and a Muslim, but I have risen to this rank without taking advantage of any quota,” Heptulla said.
She added that reservation would be available to a miniscule few: “How will you choose who it should go to?”
Some people from the community raised objections to this viewpoint. “Why was the Maratha reservation Bill passed then while the Muslim quota was left out in the Maharashtra Assembly?” asked chairman of the Indian Muslim Intellectual Forum Salim Alware. Another said the issue was creating dissent among people from the community towards the ruling BJP government in the state.
Heptulla later refused to entertain more questions on this issue, saying it was a matter for each state government to decide on.
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