How Muslims got prominence and Hindus ignored in Mamata Banerjee's reservation scheme

National |  IANS  | Published :

Kolkata, May 23 (IANS) As the Calcutta High Court's cancellation of over 5,00,000 OBC certificates granted in West Bengal after 2010 created a political tsunami in the state, observers pointed out that early indications of the imminent complications started surfacing last year.

In October last year, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) sought the details of 87 Backward Communities, which had been recommended for inclusion in the OBC list by the West Bengal government.

The notice was issued because the state government while recommending these 87 communities for inclusion in the OBC list, did not provide family-tree details for those who went through religious conversion.

At that point in time it was revealed that of the 87 communities, 76 were from the Muslim community and the remaining nine were from the Hindu community. Instead of taking the matter seriously, the state government came out with the logic that although the number of enlisted communities might be more from Muslims than Hindus, the total number of beneficiaries from the Hindu community was more than those from the Muslims.

Of the 87 communities about whom NCBC sought a report from the state government in October last year, the majority were included after the Trinamool Congress regime started in 2011, while few existed from the earlier Left Front regime.

The question is what prompted NCBC to seek such details from the state government in October last year.

The basis was in the NCBC’s earlier report exposing irregularities in the OBC reservation list, especially in the changes made in 2011, which BJP’s IT-cell chief and the party’s central observer for West Bengal Amit Malviya highlighted through a message posted on his official X handle soon after the Calcutta High Court on Monday.

The BJP had raised objections about the OBC list in the state even before 2011, the year which marked the end of the 34-year Left Front rule in West Bengal and the beginning of the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress regime in the state.

As of 2011, West Bengal had 108 castes in the OBC list, of which 55 were Hindus and the rest 53 Muslims. According to the BJP camp, even that list prevailing during the previous Left Front regime was discriminatory considering the state’s population was 70 per cent for Hindu and 30 per cent Muslim.

In 2011, the Trinamool Congress, soon after coming to power, added 71 additional castes to the list, out of which 65 were Muslims and only six were Hindus. In the fresh list of a total of 179 castes, the Muslims became the majority at 118 and the Hindus became the minority with just 61.

Now after the Calcutta High Court order on Monday, a serious political slugfest has surfaced in West Bengal.

On one hand, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had claimed that she does not accept the Calcutta High Court order since it “favours BJP”, both BJP and CPI(M) have started launching scathing attacks against her though on different grounds.

Amit Malviya and other BJP leaders have claimed that Mamata Banerjee can scream and stomp her feet but the appeasement politics she thrived on has been crushed, for now.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have welcomed the Calcutta High Court order and criticized the “appeasement politics” of Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee.

The CPI(M) politburo member and the party state secretary in West Bengal Md Salim has launched a scathing attack against the Chief Minister though from a different angle. According to him, the previous Left Front regime in West Bengal reserved 17 per cent of the quota on the basis of the recommendations of the Ranganath Mishra Commission.

“The Left Front government in West Bengal was the first state government in West Bengal to do that, which the Calcutta High Court has also agreed to in its verdict on Wednesday. But after coming to power in 2011, the current Trinamool Congress government totally destroyed the OBC reservation system, The current state government granted OBC certificates at random without caring for the constitutional provisions. So the Calcutta High Court order was inevitable,” Salim said.

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