JD(S), Congress fight for share of Karnataka’s minority pie
By Rajashekara S - BANGALORE
Published: 29th Jul 2012 10:44:24 AM
With just ten months for the state to go for Assembly polls, the Opposition Congress and the JD(S) have already begun playing the Muslim card. Muslims constitute about 12.5 per cent of the total 6.11 crore population in Karnataka.
It all began with a mammoth Muslim Convention organised by the JD(S) on July 16. The rally was a part of its move to appease the community and dispel any doubts about its secular credentials after it had entered into an alliance with the BJP in 2006.
JD(S) supremo and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda candidly admitted that his son, former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy “made a mistake,” by aligning with the BJP to form the government. In the same breath, he blamed his former coalition partner Congress for the same.
Reassuring the community of his secular credentials, Gowda also claimed that, when he was the Karnataka chief minister in 1996, had announced 4 per cent reservation in government jobs and created the Muslim Minority Development Corporation (MMDC).
Visibly shaken by the JD(S)’ massive Muslim convention, the Congress was quick to counter by allowing its Muslim MLAs to dub the entire exercise by Gowda as a “political gimmick,’’ ahead of the polls.
Congress legislators Roshan Baig, N A Haris and Nasir Ahmed accused the JD(S) of hijacking their party’s contributions for minority welfare.
Countering the Congress’ claim, Kumaraswamy alleged that the Congress had no commitment towards the Muslim community.
“Just because they have not done anything to the community, Congress should not blame us for helping Muslims,’’ he said and asked the Congress leaders to spell out their contribution to the Muslim community in the 45 years of its rule in Karnataka.
Gowda too attacked the Congress and advised its leaders to restrain from making false claims that they were responsible for the exclusive Muslim reservation in Karnataka.
Dismissing these claims by both Gowda and the Congress party, former MLC and a senior journalist Quazi Arshad Ali who has written a book, Karnataka Muslims and Electoral Politics, said that Muslim reservation was there in Karnataka since 1921. Post independence, it was former chief minister late Devraj Urs who included reservations for Muslims by including them in the Other Backward Classes group as no reservation could be extended on religious or caste basis.
“When Veerappa Moily was the chief minister, he extended 6 per cent reservation for minorities including Muslims. When Gowda came to power, he exclusively reserved 4 per cent for Muslims and 2 per cent for other Minorities like Christians, Buddists, Jains among others,’’ he pointed.
Contrary to the claims and counterclaims made by the Congress and the JD(S), the political representation of the community in general in the electoral politics has remained negligible. For the first time in Karnataka there is no Muslim representation in the Council of Ministers and in the board in the Karnataka Public Service Commission, Ali pointed.