Jobs @ MG
Backward class Muslims & reservation –
does end justify means?
By N. Jamal Ansari, Aligarh
|Muslim politics is going to turn upside
down, if the claims of some individuals and organizations are to be
believed. In a recent statement Dr Ejaz Ali, National convener of All
India Backward class Muslim Morcha declared that, ‘if the government of
Uttar Pradesh concede the demand of backward class Muslims for reservation
under Article 341, then we are ready to support the BJP in coming assembly
elections of the Uttar Pradesh’. He further announced that nearly 64
backward castes of Muslims will come forward in support of BJP. Going
beyond the limits, Dr Ali declared that, ‘the Morcha will cooperate with
BJP on all the three controversial points, Article 370 & 371, Common
Civil Code and Construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, if they consider our
demand for reservations’. (Amar Ujala, June 21).
Before going into merits or demerits of the proposed support, we must
analyze the demand for reservation objectively not emotionally. This
demand is as old as independence itself. In fact a constitutional flaw or
lacuna is responsible for the plight of Muslims and Christians alike.
At the time of drafting the constitution, Ambedkar was convinced by some
Muslims that Indian Muslim society has no caste system although such a
system was prevalent. Under Article 340, 341 and 342 Scheduled Castes,
Scheduled Tribes and Backward classes have rights to reservation. But
constitutionally that ‘Right’ was limited to the believers of Hinduism
only. This limitation itself is against the spirit of the constitution,
which forbids favourism on grounds of religious affiliations. Perhaps this
limitation was imposed by some ulterior motives. There was every
possibility that dalits and backward classes of other religions will cross
over to Hinduism for availing the fruits of reservations. In 1956 Sikhs
fought for their rights and they were included with Hindus. Again in 1990
Buddhists were accommodated with Hindus and Sikhs. After 1990, the picture
became more clearer. Only Muslims and Christians were left outside the
reservation Umbrella. Is not this a constitutional fraud? No doubt that
this outdated reservation policy should be modified by amending the
constitution or scrapped totally.
From 1990 to 1993, Muslim Indians were totally pre-occupied in facing the
violent politics of BJP. But after 1993, the demands of backward class and
dalit Muslims for fair treatment in reservation policy gained momentum.
Conferences on this burning issue were organized at different places. In
one such conference held at Aligarh on August, 3, 1997 under the banner of
‘All India Backward Muslim Representative Meet’, Prof Humayun Murad
simply said that, ‘We strongly advocate the demand for including all
backward Muslims who have not been included in the existing list of
OBS’s. This was done is case of Sikhs and neo-Buddhists. There is no
reason why a similar step should not be taken in case of all backward
Muslims’ (TOI, 5 August 1997) I think this is the factual and normal
statement straight out of heart.
The demand of reservation for backward class and dalit Muslims has always
been supported by the community. But there is some urgent need to
re-examine the issue as whole. In response to one of my articles, ‘The
logic of discrimination’ (The Pioneer, 16 January 1999) Syed Shahabuddin
wrote back that, ‘even if some Muslims sub-communities which have common
ancestors with Hindu Scheduled Castes and are engaged in common
professions, are included, it will make negligible impact on the overall
development of the Muslim Community’, (letter entitled ‘Scheduling
Castes’, The Pioneer, January 25 1999) Syed Shahabuddin was right. I
accept that we must take into account Muslims as one community because
fragmentation of the community into Ashrafs or Ajlafs will lead us
nowhere. On the other hand, this tendency will provide Sangh-Parivar
opportunities to implement its plans.
Dr Ejaz Ali’s statement shows that he is prepared to barter away
community’s interests. The question of supporting BJP, just to get
reservation is totally misguided and miscalculated. The crimes of BJP or
Sangh Parivar are not such that they may be condoned. This is not the
question of just reservations but of dignity, individuality, rights and
identity. Philosophy of the Sangh-Parivar is a threat to Muslim culture,
religion and self-respect. It must be remembered.
Secondly, there will not be much government jobs left as a result of
liberalization and globalization. Already BJP led central government is
turning India from a social welfare state to capitalist one despite the
opposition from masses.
In these circumstances, the demand for reservation is nothing but only a
political game. I don’t see any merit in it. On the other hand, such
demands will make gulf with in Indian Muslims society which will be
exploited by the Sangh Parivar. Just consider, if a riot took place, any
Bajrangi will leave me, just because I belong to a backward caste of
Muslims and a BJP supporter. No, Dr Ejaz Ali, he will not. Your proposed
support to the BJP will be suicidal.
Hence, all those who talk to support BJP should reconsider their approach
in the light of ground realities. Muslim masses will not compromise on
shariat or Babri Mosque. It will be appropriate that Dr Ejaz Ali go
through the Bible of BJP-wall as entitled Bunch of Thoughts (By Guru
Golwalkar) before considering any support to it.
Reservation will be welcomed but not by surrender of Muslim
community’s interest. No doubt ends and goals are important but so are
means. There is no question of supporting BJP, just for reservation.