Karnataka: Congress-BJP faceoff over Muslim OBC-quota scrapping; Shah invokes Constitution
A fresh spat erupted between the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka after the state government scrapped the 4% Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation for Muslims. Terming it "unconstitutional," Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar promised to restore the quota once the party comes into power. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said there was no constitutional provision for religious reservations.
Why does this story matter?
- The developments come as the election campaigning in poll-bound Karnataka is in full swing.
- The BJP has divided the 4% Muslim Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota among Lingayats and Vokkaligas—Karnataka's two most dominant castes—to woo them ahead of elections.
- Notably, however, rough estimates say the population of these two castes doesn't even exceed 30%, but they occupy roughly half of the 224 Assembly seats.
DK Shivakumar says Vokkaligas, Lingayats rejected offer
DK Shivakumar on Sunday claimed that the Vokkaligas and Lingayats rejected the offer of getting a share of the Muslim OBC quota. "They (the government) think that reservation can be distributed like a property. It's not a property. It's a right (of minorities)," he said. "We don't want their (OBC Muslims) 4% to be scrapped and given to any major community," added Shivakumar.
Congress will restore Muslim OBC quota once voted to power
The Congress leader vowed to reinstate the Muslim OBC quota in Karnataka. While expressing confidence that the Congress will win the Karnataka Assembly elections in the "next 45 days," Shivakumar said there was "no basis" to remove Muslims from the OBC reservation category.
Amit Shah slams Congress, says religious quota 'unconstitutional'
Meanwhile, Shah on Sunday slammed Congress for allegedly indulging in "polarization politics" over the Muslim OBC quota and claimed there was no constitutional provision to offer reservation on the basis of religion. "The Congress government, due to its polarisation politics, provided reservation to the minority. BJP scrapped that...and provided reservations to Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities," he said, addressing a public meeting in poll-bound Karnataka.
Shah accused Congress of ignoring martyrs
The Union home minister also accused Congress of ignoring martyrs for electoral greed. "If Sardar Patel had not been there, Hyderabad would have never attained independence. Bidar, too, would not have attained independence," Shah said. He was in Karnataka to inaugurate a few memorials, including Garota Shaheed Smarak and a memorial of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, besides hoisting a 103-foot-high national flag there.
Karnataka government's decision to end 4% Muslim OBC reservation
On Friday, Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai-led cabinet reportedly scrapped the 4% OBC reservation quota for Muslims and allocated it to Vokkaligas (2%) and Lingayats (2%) under two new reservation categories created last year. It decided that these Muslims would be moved to the 10% Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category. Additionally, it increased the overall reservation allotment from 50% to 56% in the poll-bound state.