Sanket Upadhyay, NDTV.COM
Watch story Politicos back Dalit Muslims reservations
Tuesday, November 21, 2006 (Lucknow):
A day before Parliament convenes for the Winter Session, the debate over reservations for Dalit Muslims is taking centre stage.
There are rumblings from Lucknow over the demand, which has already found top-level support from ministers within the UPA government.
And months before UP goes to the polls, a political churning is evident with powerful sections within the Muslim community coming together to articulate their concerns.
The People's Democratic Front, a political party set up in Lucknow early this year that is made up of Muslim scholars, clerics, MPs and MLAs, is now pushing for reservations for Dalits Muslims.
"We want the Dalit Muslims to be included in the Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste category so that they are also entitled to the benefits for reservation," said Nehaluddin Ahmed, General Secretary, PDF.
As leaders up the political rhetoric over the issue, they argue that if Dalit Sikhs and neo Buddhist converts can get reservations under the SC/ST category, then why not Muslims.
BJP opposes demand
While the BJP has opposed the demand to include Muslims in the SC ST category, the Chief Minister of UP has promised to back it.
And he is not alone as leading constituents within the UPA, including the DMK, the LJP and the Left, are also in favour.
Dalit Muslim reservation in Uttar Pradesh has been a heated issue of discussion, but at ground level, that is about it.
Experts and leaders now believe that an amendment in the Article 341 of the Constitution, which will include Dalit Christians and Muslims in the list of SCs and STs, is all that is required to pass on the reservation benefits to these communities in the state.