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HVK Archives: Gowda's remark on quota for Muslims angers all

Gowda's remark on quota for Muslims angers all - The Economic Times

Posted By Ashok V Chowgule (ashokvc@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in)
24 December 1996

Title : Gowda's remark on quota for Muslims angers all
Author :
Publication : The Economic Times
Date : December 24, 1996

Prime Minister Deve Gowda's penchant for making promises without clearance
from the United Front steering committee has been a sore point with rest of
the constituents, but his latest pronouncement that left to him he would have
extended reservation in government jobs to minorities (read Muslims) has
angered his colleagues. That the prime minister should have tried to secure
"cheap publicity" for himself on a sensitive issue like reservation for
minorities has caused heartburn among not only the UF partners but Janata Dal
leaders.

On a visit to Kozhikode, the prime minister told a gathering of Muslims to
felicitate Kanathapuram Sahib, the 'Patron-saint' of IUML that he had no
objection to fulfil the demand but for others, indirectly hinting at UF
partners.

Besides attempting to establish his 'secular' credentials and be seen as a
sympathiser of Muslims, Mr Gowda had publicly made his stand known on an
issue which has divided the Dal as well. The minority cell of JD had in the
last one year tried to get the party leadership's commitment on reservation
for minorities. Reservation on religious lines has been frowned upon in the
last 50 years, and separate electorates were considered as the basis of
Muslim Leagues's demand for Pakistan.

A senior leader, while terming the prime minister's statement as "highly
objectionable", remarked that promising Jats to secure Mandal reservation for
them was without the sanction of the steering committee. That was wrong but
what he said in Kerala was "unpardonable".

JD had debated the matter at last year's Bangalore national executive, and
Muslim delegates like Mufti Mohammed Sayeed (now in Congress-I) had pleaded
for the adoption of such a resolution. Senior leaders like Mr Madhu
Dandavate and Mr Surendra Mohan, had then objected to "misusing" such a
sensitive issue for political gains. Senior leaders had also argued that the
BJP would exploit such an issue to the detriment of other parties and, law
and order considerations.

The party executive refused to entertain such a resolution and later in its
election manifesto as well. The common minimum programme of UF was also
silent on the issue.

The Left parties have not taken kindly to such a statement. These parties had
protested when Mr Gowda announced that a new commission to identify backward
castes might be set up, raising the expectations of Jata whom he addressed in
Rajasthan. Prime minister's 'trouble shooter' civil aviation minister has
advised him to make such statements for 'enhancing' his image.

But Mr Ibrahim, whose credentials remain controversial and one whose rise as
a so-called Muslim leader in Karnataka owes itself to 'exploiting' the
publication of a popular Malayalam book into English, evokes strong reaction
from his colleagues. Senior leaders said that they would not be surprised if
Mr Ibrahim had asked Mr Gowda to speak on the matter.

In the just concluded session of Parliament, too, League's Banatwala had
called for Muslims being given the benefit of reservation before women.

His statements did not evoke support from any other party in Lok Sabha.

Mr Gowda's remarks has angered the Left who feel he should not forget that as
a prime minister every statement could have political repercussions.
Moreover, Mr Gowda's attempt to paint all others as against the minorities
was also something that the Left has not taken kindly too.



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