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Why Muslim reservation was removed in Karnataka, who will get benefit before assembly elections

Keshav Karna

Before the assembly elections, the BJP government in Karnataka abolished the 4% reservation given to backward Muslims in the state. Along with this, playing a big gamble, the Bommai government announced to add this 4% quota to the existing reservation of Vokkaligas and Lingayats, the two major communities of the state. The Muslim community has naturally reacted strongly to this, while the Congress has said it will restore the Muslim quota as soon as it comes to power.

what is election math
Such maneuvers have been played during the election season. Let us see what kind of electoral math is working behind these steps.

  • The BJP has a strong vote bank in the Lingayat community. She is also trying to woo the Vokkaliga community. In the last Lok Sabha elections, where the Vokkaliga community is in majority, the BJP won seats.
  • BJP has taken the initiative of increasing the reservation of Vokkaliga community from 4% to 6% by abolishing the Muslim quota. At the same time, the quota of Lingayat community has been increased from 5% to 7%.

This means that before the elections, the ruling party of the state has taken this step to strengthen its base in both these communities. The fact is that Lingayat voters have drifted away from the Congress since the mid-eighties for various reasons. After that he gradually shifted towards BJP. Today, Yeddyurappa is the universal leader of Lingayats. That’s why BJP has a vote bank of Lingayats. But this community also has many sub-communities. One of them is the Panchamasali community. He was demanding separate reservation for himself. Obviously, the latest decision of the state government does not seem like a hasty decision at all. The churning on this must have been going on for a long time.

muslim reservation logic
Talking about Muslim reservation, it was started in 1994 by the then Deve Gowda government of the state. His aim was also to take advantage of the election.

  • The population of Muslims is around 13% in the state. Gulbarga, the area of ​​Karnataka adjacent to Hyderabad, from where Mallikarjun Kharge comes, has a sizeable population there too. Mangaluru, Bhatkal, Udupi, Murudeshwar, which is the coastal Karnataka, these places also have sizeable population of Muslims.
  • Looking at the voting pattern in Karnataka, it seems that the votes of the minority communities are cast for one party only and lump sum.
  • There are 10 to 15 seats in the state where the Muslim vote count can be decisive without any further calculations.

what has changed
Keep in mind, the system of reservation in Karnataka is very complex. The reservation that the Muslims were getting here was mainly available in three categories.

No tampering has been done in the reservation given to the sub-castes of the backward class of the Muslim community, which we call Pasmanda Muslims in section one. They will continue to get the benefit of reservation as before. In sub-section 2A also, other sub-castes of Muslims will get the benefit of reservation. The reservation that OBC Muslims were getting only under 2B has been canceled by the Bommai government. The government says that there are no OBCs among Muslims, so it is not valid. Hence it is being removed.

Along with this, the government has said that the economically backward among Muslims, who were getting the benefit of 2B provision, are being moved to the reservation category of EWS. It is certain that one or the other party will challenge this recent change of BJP government in the court. However, the Supreme Court has already warned the Karnataka government regarding the maximum reservation limit of 50%. But if we talk about the latest decision, it has not made any difference. The current limit of reservation in Karnataka is around 56%. The issue is sub judice in the Karnataka High Court. When its decision comes, it is possible that some more things will come out in the open in this direction as well.

Congress counter strategy
Congress’s DK Shivakumar immediately said after the state government’s move that if his government comes to power, this decision will be overturned. But the Congress has already been accused of minority appeasement. In such a situation, it has to be seen whether the Congress remains firm on this issue even after the election fever increases. The second thing is whether the Congress, if indeed voted to power, will take the risk of antagonizing the Vokkaligas and Lingayats, who are crucial voter communities here. The Congress is still paying the price for angering the Lingayats during Rajiv Gandhi’s time. Both Vokkaligas and Lingayats are communities on which the Congress does not have much influence left. In such a situation, Congress will hardly take the risk of angering them more in the coming times.

(The author is a senior journalist)

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.

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