Days after the Devendra Fadnavis government passed the politically sensitive Maratha reservation bill in the Maharashtra Assembly and left out the Muslim quota, the opposition parties in the state have decided to corner the government by 'exposing' its 'anti-Muslim' face in the public.
Though chief minister Fadnavis has claimed that the government was seeking opinion from the advocate general on the Muslim reservation, opposition parties charge that the BJP has no intention of actually giving quota to the Muslim community, which has been termed a socio-economically backward community by the Justice Rajinder Sachar Commission.
From Congress to NCP and from Samajwadi Party to MIM all parties are set to agitate for the tabling of the Muslim quota bill by the government as soon as possible. The Congress and NCP separately told dna that if needed, they may move court for the Muslim quota.
Congress leader Arif Naseem Khan said, "The government has deliberately left the Muslim quota as they don't want to offer reservation to Muslims. This has exposed the intention of the BJP government. We would not remain silent and would take to road if needed."
Khan also said that the party has spoken to the minister of minority affairs Eknath Khadse who has assured them that the government is considering the case "seriously".
The Nationalist Congress party spokesperson Nawab Malik said, "The BJP government's approach (to deny quotas to Muslims) has left us devastated. It was the NCP which advocated for the Muslim quota all these years and our coalition government brought the ordinance for the same."
The previous Congress-NCP state government had brought in an ordinance to give 16 per cent reservations in government jobs and educational institutions to Marathas and 5 per cent to Muslims.
However, this ordinance was challenged in the Bombay high court; the court stayed the decision to give reservations to the Maratha community in public service jobs and educational institutions. The HC also stayed the state government's decision to provide 5 per cent reservation to Muslims in government jobs, while allowing their quota in educational institutions.
Political observer Surendra Jondhale sees a larger game plan of the BJP in splitting the two reservations. "By separating the Muslim and Maratha reservation issue, the BJP mainly seeks to polarise the society; and to dent the Muslim vote bank of the Congress to ensure that a significant chunk of unhappy and angry Muslim voters flock to MIM. This will ultimately help the BJP to grow in the state," he said.