Adding a communal twist to the Modi government's move to introduce 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) via a constitutional amendment bill, Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan has demanded that half of that quota be reserved for Muslims. The demand isn't just another attempt to polarise on religion but also goes against the fundamental underlying tenet of the cabinet's proposition -- that the new quota be caste-agnostic and religion-neutral.
Defying the religion- and caste-free quota, Azam Khan warned that people would take to the streets for their "rights".
He said, "The Supreme Court has said that there cannot be a reservation only on the basis of the economy. But we believe that if our demands are taken lightly then the way people of Rajasthan, Maharashtra came down on the streets for their rights. Don't forget we have the second largest population in our country and that is Muslim."
He proceeded to demand a 5% reservation (presumably leaving 5% for everyone else):
He said, "We demand 5 % for Muslims in this new 10 % quota for Economically Weaker Section."
After making a number of remarks comparing the situation of various communities, Azam Khan said that the Muslim community was the fittest to get this new reservation because "we are economically, socially backward," he added.
The Union Cabinet led by Prime Minister Modi had approved the Constitution Bill on Monday. The historic amendment goes parallel with the Modi government's policy of abolishing caste-based appeasement. Two articles will need to be amended - Articles 15 and 16 - in order to enable the additional 10% quota.
The applicability of the proposed quota, i.e. who falls under Economically Weaker Sections, has been notified. At the time of publishing, the bill has been introduced in the Lok Sabha and a debate over it is ongoing. Interestingly, the SP's main rival-turned-ally in Uttar Pradesh, the BSP has given the bill its backing, though its chief Mayawati has deemed it a political stunt by questioning how the government will implement it owing to there being barely any time left in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.