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Exclusive reservation in TN
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, April 5
While the entire country is reeling over the recent Supreme Court order on reservation for OBCs and beginning of yet another controversy following today's Allahabad High Court judgement regarding minority status of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu today announced reservations for Muslims and Christians in education and employment sectors in the state.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi announced in the State Assembly here today that following the recommendation of the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes Commission, Muslims and Christians would enjoy reservation in educational institutions and for securing jobs.

The state already has reservation of 69 per cent for OBCs, scheduled castes and tribes, of which 50 per cent is for OBCs, 18 per cent for scheduled castes and one per cent for scheduled tribes.

Karunanidhi said the Commission, headed by Justice M. Janardhanam, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, had submitted the recommendations on reservation for Christians and Muslims in educational institutions and employment in government services.

The Commission had recommended implementation of reservations for minorities on the basis of data of percentage of Backward Classes among Hindus, Muslims and Christians provided by the second Tamil Nadu Backward Classes Welfare panel.

Karunanidhi said the legal steps to implement the reservations would be initiated after the outcome of the case on 69 per cent reservation in Tamil Nadu pending before the Supreme Court.

He said he would consult the constituents of the ruling Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA) in the State and then announce the complete details.

Outlining the history of social justice movement and reservations in Tamil Nadu, the Chief Minister said the famous “communal Government Order of 1921’, which ushered in benefits for backward communities had sown the seeds of reservation for Muslims and "Indian Christians" to enjoy the benefits of reservations.

He recalled that in the 1927 government order, Muslims and Christians were provided separate reservation on the basis of "rotation" and said the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government in 1973-74 included two sections of Urdu-speaking impoverished Muslims in the list of backward classes.

Karunanidhi pointed out that in its election manifesto for the last May 2006 Assembly polls, the DMK had pledged separate reservation for Muslims and Christians as it had been their long standing demand.

The announcement is likely to create a legal controversy in Tamil Nadu, as in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh the High Court last year had twice struck down reservation for Muslims announced by the Congress government there.

However, Karunanidhi said during the State budget last year the government had assured to urge the Central Government to provide separate reservation for religious minorities and take firm steps to implement it.

The Chief Minister said the government had asked the State Backward Classes Commission to examine the question of reservation for religious minorities and had accepted its recommendations in this regard.

Other than the alliance partners of the DMK, Karunanidhi received the support of the Opposition too in this regard. Opposition deputy leader O. Panneerselvam said there was consensus over reservation for minorities among all political parties and urged the government to speed up the pending reservation case before the Supreme Court to implement this in letter and spirit.

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