Buddhadeb's new quota for Bengal Muslims an election ploy?

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Kolkata:  West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has said that his new reservation policy for Muslims in the state has nothing to do with the Assembly elections. However, on the ground, while people have welcomed the move, there is a niggling suspicion that the whole thing is an election ploy that may not really get off the ground.

A state survey in West Bengal shows that 1.72 crore of the total 2.1 crore Muslims in the state are backward.

Many unemployed youths in the state like Nikhad, a graduate who barely makes ends meet by tutoring local children saw a fresh hope when the news of job reservation for 86 per cent OBC Muslims was announced.

"We've just heard about the reservation for Muslims and that's made me really happy. If one gets a government job through reservation, then life becomes secure," she said.

With his new policy, the chief minister wants to counter the Sachchar Committee's damaging report that Muslim employees in the state government number just 2.1 per cent.

"Sachchar Committee raised the problem but didn't show a way out which the Ranganath Mishra Commission did, though we feel reservation is not the only way. We are doing this out of a our social responsibility. There is no connection with elections," he said.

The skeptics however are questioning the latest quota policy. Till recently, Muslims largely back the Left but the 2009 Lok Sabha polls indicated a severe erosion.  

Siddiqullah Choudhury of the Jamait Islami-e-Hind said,"It's a positive step but it needs to be implemented. Only the Chief Minister's announcement will not do."

Roshan Zameer Noori added,"They have announced 85 per cent but there is not a guarantee it will be implemented. They have made the announcement to draw the people to the party so that they get more votes."

It's a point of view the Trinamool backs as it asks why it took the Left Front government 35 years to wake up to the plight of the Muslims in the state.   

"Suddenly CPM wakes up after 35 years. So far, the CPM has just taken the minorities, the Muslims specially, just as vote bank," said Dinesh Trivedi, of the Trinamool.

OBC certificates will be given from October. But Assembly polls, now just months away, will put to test whether the new quota policy pays the Left any real dividends.


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