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Muslim OBC interests in peril
By Obaid Nasir, Lucknow

One master stroke and Chief Minister Rajnath Singh killed many birds with one stone. By his sudden love for most backward castes (MBCs) and most Dalits (lowest among SCs) the shrewd chief minister has unarmed his political opponents Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajvadi Party Mayawati of Bahujan Samaj Party and Om Prakash Singh of his own party and cabinet. This is only one and simplistic version of the sudden decision of the chief minister to appoint a social justice commission to suggest ways and means to ensure the benefit of reservation as given by Mandal Commission’s recommendations to these comparatively weaker and more deprived among OBCs and SCs. His main target are Muslims whose more than 80 percent population is covered under Mandal Commission recommendations. Except four so called upper castes namely Syed, Sheikh, Mughals and Pathans almost all the castes mostly artisans like weavers, carpenters, Quraishis, Naddafs, etc. come under OBCs and are entitled for reservation. Chief Minister in a shrewd move has decided to bifurcate the OBCs between forward OBCs and most backward castes (MBCs). Till now forward castes mainly Yadav, Jats, Kurmis and Lodhs constituting not more than 15% of OBC population were enjoying about 90% benefits of Mandal, thus leaving a very small portion for MBCs and Muslim backwards. Even then, some Muslims were getting this benefit but now when the quota will be divided between OBCs and MBCs, where the Muslim backwards will stand can better be understood. Thus Mr. Rajnath Singh has very cleverly implemented the RSS agenda vis a vis Muslims and has championed the cause of MBCs who constitute about 40% of the total 54% OBC population in UP.

Not only this, chief minister has also tried to woo SCs i.e., Dalits and has announced to ensure that non-Jatav (Chamar) Dalits will also be provided separate quota within the prescribed limit for SC/ST. This he has done to snatch the vote bank of Mayawati who was having unchallenged control not only on Jatav votes but also on MBC and non Jatav votes, while Mulayam Singh Yadav was the sole claimant of Yadav votes. Thus he has unarmed both his opponents. Even his party and cabinet colleague Om Prakash Singh is sulking as he is not finding himself in a position to oppose Rajnath Singh to keep intact his MBC votes. He belongs to Kurmi caste which till now was the sure vote bank of BJP but with the emergence of Apna Dal this vote bank is slowly shifting towards this new outfit.

Rajnath Singh has now put himself in place of VP Singh who by his sudden decision to accept the Mandal Commission recommendations in 1990 had unnerved but unarmed the BJP compelling it to resort to Kamandal i.e., Babri Masjid movement. Not only BJP but even Congress too became unnerved and its opposition to Mandal resulted in its continued downfall and the party could not recover. Now Rajnath Singh has put himself at such a place where any opposition to his leadership will be seen as opposing the interests of MBCs and Dalits who total more than 60% in our population. No leader will like to annoy this huge vote bank. Mulayam and Mayawati are now blaming Rajnath Singh of vote bank politics. Mayawati has gone to the extent of saying that this decision will start a caste war, conveniently forgetting that till now she was championing the cause of MBCs with the twin purpose of increasing her vote bank and minimizing the influence of Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The tragic point in this episode is that none of them is looking from Muslim point of view. The so-called messiah of Muslims Mulayam Singh Yadav is mum on this issue. He is worried that Yadavs will be at a loss. He has never uttered that the Muslim OBCs are being deprived of their rights. Yadavs, because of their educational and economic prosperity will get some thing in the proposed divided quota but Muslim OBCs will get nothing. Mayawati too is not taking this point under consideration. Only Congress has expressed some reservations on this move of the chief minister and has asked to ensure that interests of Muslim OBCs are not hurt. It has also appointed a committee under former Chief Minister Ram Naresh Yadav to suggest ways and means for better implementation of Mandal Commission recommendations so that every section of the society is benefited. It has also announced to give 8% separate quota to Muslim OBCs within the stipulated 27% as suggested by Mandal. If it came to power after next election, UPCC chief Shri Prakash Jaiswal has announced that the recommendations of Ram Naresh Yadav committee will be included in the party’s manifesto for UP assembly election due shortly.

All India Muslim Forum has raised the issue and is planning to represent its case before the newly appointed social justice commission of the UP government. Former union minister and senior leader Qazi Rasheed Masood has sent a letter to chief minister requesting him to ensure that the reservation benefits of Muslims are intact.
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