New Delhi: In an order dated March 27, the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka has reclassified the definition of ‘backward classes’ for reservations, excluding Muslims from eligibility. However, Jains (Digamabaras) and Christians remain eligible for the reservations.
As The Wire has reported, the BJP government removed the 4% reservation that the Muslims had so far accessed and added the same equally between the state’s powerful caste groups – Lingayats and Vokkaligas – taking their quota to 5% and 7%, respectively. The Muslims have been moved to the EWS (economically weaker sections) category which has a total of 10%; they have to share the same with a few groups like the Jains and Brahmins.
While Muslims were removed from the 2B Backward Class category (which they had been made a part of in 1994) through the March 27 order, Christians and Jains are classified under the 2D category, the Indian Express reported.
On March 26, Union home minister Amit Shah congratulated state chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on the “bold decision”. Shah said that giving quotas based on religion was against the constitution.
On March 24, Bommai had said, “There is no provision under the Constitution for reservation to religious minorities … It was struck down by the court in Andhra Pradesh. Even Dr B R Ambedkar had said that reservation was for castes.”
Opposition parties have criticised the new reservation policy, arguing that many different studies have classified Muslims as socially and economically backward. Muslim groups too have held protests in some parts of the state.
The Karnataka assembly elections will be held on May 10, and counting of votes on May 13.