M A I N   N E W S

Cong takes a U-turn, plays Muslim quota card again 
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, January 14
After shrugging off Law Minister Salman Khurshid’s poll promise on reservation for minorities as his individual view, the Congress did a volte-face today, saying it was in favour of a further increase in quota for backward Muslims.

In fact, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi today went a step further to say that the party’s election manifesto for Uttar Pradesh, which is currently being finalised, will promise quotas for Muslims as declared by Khurshid at an election rally in Farrukhabad. The Law Minister, who was issued a show-cause notice by the Election Commission for violating the model code of conduct, had announced that if voted to power, the Congress would provide nine per cent sub-quota for backward minorities from the 27 per cent quota for OBCs.

Alvi’s U-turn comes after Khurshid, who also heads the UP election manifesto committee, called up the party spokesperson this morning and informed him that told him that the manifesto will provide for a 8- 9 per cent quota for backward minorities though the final figure is still to be decided.

Addressing his daily press briefing yesterday, Alvi had said that providing nine per cent quota to backward Muslim could be the individual view of the Law Minister. “It is his individual view.. it would be better if you ask the minister for his reaction,” he had told mediapersons.

A chastened Alvi went into a damage-control mode today, as his statement ended up undermining the Congress’ strategy to woo the Muslim vote in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. The Congress is making all-out efforts in this direction as it finds that minorities are veering towards Mulayum Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party.

In a bid to recover lost ground, Alvi even criticised the EC indirectly for its order putting off the implementation of the government’s decision to provide 4.5 per cent quota for backward minorities in the poll-bound states. “We don't think that the Election Commission should have put the 4.5 per cent reservation on hold,” he said.

Justifying the announcement made by Khurshid during the UP poll campaign, Alvi said, “Though the EC has put the decision on hold, we beleive that parties going to polls will find themselves in a difficult position if it cannot speak about its manifesto.” 






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