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Monday, March 29, 2010

Muslim quota set to open Pandora’s box

In giving the go-ahead to the Andhra Pradesh Government to proceed with its proposed four per cent reservations for ‘backward’ Muslims, the Supreme Court has, perhaps unwittingly, triggered a social upheaval whose consequences may prove to be far-reaching and not entirely beneficial to India. True, the entire issue of religion-based reservations that unsettles the 1950 consensus will be adjudicated by a full Constitution bench of the apex court. However, since it may be some time before the court settles the issue, the Andhra Pradesh clearance is certain to become the basis of a new reservations epidemic.


The stage for a new bout of social engineering has already been set. The Ranganath Mishra Commission report favouring 10 per cent reservation for Muslims and an additional quota for Dalit Christians has already become the focus of a Congress that is looking for ways to offset the fierce Muslim hostility to the Women’s Reservation Bill. Cynical strategists of the party have calculated that the emerging solidarity of the backward castes and Muslims can be disrupted by extracting a Muslim quota from the already existing OBC share. In short, since OBCs in North India, particularly Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have not shown any inclination to support the Congress since 1967, the best electoral strategy lies in tempting Muslim voters with the lure of reservations. In South India, the consolidation of Dalit Christian and Muslim votes behind the Congress will be additionally beneficial.


That implementation of the Ranganath Mishra report was not an article of faith for the Congress. Indeed, till the Women’s Reservation Bill unexpectedly threw up a new alignment of forces, the Congress was entirely willing to keep the issue on the backburner. Its hesitation was based on the belief that Muslim quotas would give the BJP a new lease of life and solidify its upper-caste support. The Congress felt that in the normal course the BJP hold over the upper and intermediate castes would slip, particularly if the Congress showed signs of resurgence.


It is interesting that the fear of the BJP was not shared by many Muslim organisations. They calculated that an internally-divided BJP was no longer in a position to whip up a Hindu backlash and that the Congress should be pressured to concede the principle of religion-based reservations. After the Women’s Reservation Bill and the Andhra Pradesh judgement, the Muslim organisations are certain to step up the pressure on the UPA, believing it to be more vulnerable than ever before. As for the BJP, the Muslim groups don’t appear to have revised their earlier assessment of long-term decline.


What emerges from this convoluted game of manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres is a distinctly unappetising picture of India. The politics of entitlements which the UPA believes was the main factor behind its victory in May 2009 has gone completely berserk. If the Women’s Reservation Bill formalised an uneven gender-based faultline, the Ranganath Mishra Report will further compartmentalise the country into religious blocs — a situation we have not experienced since the 1950 Constitution put an end to communal electorates and other religion-based quotas.


The Constituent Assembly believed it was the institutionalisation of religious differences that was responsible for Partition and it was determined to never repeat the process. In a forthright speech opposing separate Muslim seats, Sardar Vallabbhai Patel told the remaining Muslim League members of the Constituent Assembly on August 28, 1947 to ‘forget the past’: “You have got what you wanted. You have got a separate state and remember, you are the people who were responsible for it, and not those who remain in Pakistan…You got the Partition and now again you tell me and ask me to say for the purpose of securing the affection of the younger brother that I must agree to the same thing again, to divide the country again in the divided part. For God’s sake understand that we have also got some sense…”


The unequivocal determination that was evident in the leadership of the Congress in August 1947 to not yield to sectarian pressure has wilted. The reason is not some sudden discovery of entitlements; it is far more basic: there is a solid Muslim vote bank capable of making a difference in anything between 75 and 120 Lok Sabha constituencies but there is no corresponding organised force to offset it. The day such a countervailing force emerges, the Congress will be far more circumspect bowing to sectarian pressure. In 1947, the Congress was a self-assured party and aware of its formidable electoral clout; in 2010 the Congress is merely a first among equals and unsure of a loyal vote that will endure.


This, in a sense, is the real tragedy of today’s India. The political fragmentation of the country has meant that a determined, well-organised minority is in a position to extract its pound of flesh, even if that involves turning the Constitution upside down. If the UPA chooses to travel down the road recommended by the Ranganath Mishra Report, it would be sending an alarming message to the whole country. It would, in effect, be telling voters that sectarian politics cannot be fought with normal politics but by a counter-mobilisation based on a real or imagined religious identity.


In 2009, many middle class voters rejected shrill politics and voted for what they considered a sober, moderate, modernist approach. If the Congress responds to this trust by resurrecting ghosts from an unfortunate past and bolstering religious faultlines, it will be mocking the verdict. Never mind nurturing a modern Indian identity, the ruling party will be telling us to be Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. Some have heeded the advice. What if others follow suit? Or is it the belief that Hindu unity is an oxymoron?

Sunday Pioneer, March 28, 2010

9 comments:

Kenny Chauhan said...

Dear Swapan,

Very true. Any reservations based on religion are disruptive. In fact, personally I have believed that there should be no reservations. The only exception should be POOR. It is the poor who are needy. They need food, housing, education and medical aid.

The reservations should be on economic grounds and never on religion and castes and 'GENDER'. I am even against the Women Reservation Bill, even though I am a strong supporter of Women's Rights and their miseries. And believe me this is not contradictory.

Suseel said...

This is how Manmohan Singh's words of Muslims having the first right on our national resources will be achieved by Congress. This is slowly turning out to be like "First they came ..." poem. Only that they were already successful in dividing the Hindu society. Beware....they will come for every indifferent soul.

Anonymous said...

dear sd
The only criteria should be economical.now other states politicians will try to follow, increasing gap between muslims and others,state sponsored hate!the survival fear of ig and sg at any cost has costed india worst!
rajeev g. saying that when atree fall earth is bound to shake encouraged and tried to justify biggest ever killings of sikhs.this should be in the knowledge of sc.the whole cong. including sikh mms have to worship same rg today,which should be in the knowledge of likes of manoj tiwari.even bjp has failed to raise above as usual.what right cong.has, to point namo, in view of above?
gujarat has again seen anti gujarat face of cong.it has increased distance of gujatis from cong.even gk of namo is poor.ab is not aholy cow.ab family had a dispute with rg family for bofors money trasfer.then when ab was bankrupt mulayam money helped him,which is why jaya is with mulayam.

Jaykumar said...

What a fierceness answer by Sardar.

At least he had some guts to take on fundamentalist but now all are running behind minority. How they go this status of minority dont know they dont register marriage, so hardly anyone can tell how many marriages one has done. For all this marriages how many children s they have.

Don't know Karnataka,TN and Kerala has given quota to Muslims in there state, why no one opposed it?

At least constitutional bench must apply some common sense while delivering this final judgment. Just they should not fall in line with this state which has given quota, verdict must be in such a fashion that it should affect quota in those state where quota has been provided. 10% quota to Muslims in West Bengal must remain a dream for communist for ever.

Anonymous said...

the current boundaries and ethnic composition of this country are not final. the history and time say it otherwise.
chances of disintegeration are increasing with time and as the overpopulation burden leads to cat-dog -fight situation amongst various caste-religious-power groups
there would be reorganization of the borders, fragmentation into smaller states ; and even somalia type of situation where after indian disintegration there would be large number of clannish groups controlling small areas and fight brutally amongst themselves- loosely controlled by a weak state and under islamic influence [ may be purely islamic in nature].
indian media, political parties, indian judges and even the prominent personalities are either agents of foriegn powers or under the influence [ UNDER PAYMENT] of them. these powers are middle east, pakistan, underworld, china and USA.
the sense of a nation is dead.
there are power groups commanding political power and the resources in a Darwinian fashion; but here instead using the power of sheer numbers rather than intellectual or martial superiority.
fragmentation would severely reduce sustainable population, resource usurpation by china, bangladesh and pakistan, formation of the client states under influence and for benefit of above countries; and irreversible emigeration of high IQ resources out of the subcontinent would permanently erase hope for civilizational revival [as has happened in failed states of afghanistan or somalia] .
over and above that there would be severe climatic catastrope in form of global warming, 30% reduction in rainfall, Hardier crop pests and substantial crop yield reduction [ 50%]. this would happen alongwith the severe escalation in petroleum cost upon which our economy depends.
welcome to an era of quotas, population explosion, climate change darwinian struggle and mass murders.

Anonymous said...

If the 'backwards' of hindus have reservation, what is wrong if the 'backwards' of Muslims have reservation. That seems to be thiking in the supreme court's interim order. The Author does not address this question at all.

Jaykumar said...

@Anonymous said..

Even Muslims are economically backward in Islamic country, so how many of them have given reservation on basis of economically or socially backward?

Jaykumar said...

Swapan,

BJP wresting Bangalore Corporation from congress with (103/198) i.e. 52.2% of total seats almost double the seat what congress got i.e. 61 seats, shows that congress’s appeasement policy on minority didn’t went down with high spirit to large section of people. Moreover 4% quota for Muslims in AP too played an important role just before this corporation election that People of Bangalore had made their mind that its enough congress played the policy of vote bank and need to be rooted out from Bangalore city at least for time being.

Media’s and congress silence on Shimoga incident also played crucial role in this election.

Even on March 27th Modi bashing on all news channels by congress and medias also didn’t went right for congress among large section of Hindus. Country knows that this man Modi is Hindutva icon. Imposing rules and regulation on Amitabh bachan also sent a very bad image of congress, which was hidden for so many years, which they did with Kishor Kumar in 1975.

Even country should not forget that Guajarati’s are present all across the country doing large, medium and small scale industry so they too would have come out in large number and voted for BJP to send alarming signal to congress saying “enough is enough now”

Countries most Hi Tech city had voted for BJP means they have seen the differences between BJP and congress style of functioning.

I am sure congress will try to make weak case for 4% quota for Muslims in AP before constitutional bench. Even they will try to block 10% quota for Muslims in West Bengal also indirectly.

Now dare congress tries to spoil Guajarati Navnirman divas on May 1st.

What is your saying on this?

Jaykumar said...

Sardar Vallabhai Patel: -

I want to ask the Indian Muslims only one question. In the recent All-India Muslim Conference why did you not open your mouth on Kashmir? Why did you not condemn the action of Pakistan?......It is your duty now to sail in the same boat and sink or swim together. I want to tell you very clearly that you cannot ride on two horses. You select one horse, whichever you like best."