Govt job reservation policy on Left lines
Calcutta, April 15: The Bengal government will widen the list of other backward classes to include more Muslims in a job reservation policy that is modelled on the one the Left had initiated but frowned upon by Mamata Banerjee, who had cited loopholes.
The Trinamul-led government is set to include 33 more minority sub-castes in the list, which will make 91.5 per cent of the 2.02 crore Muslims in the state eligible for reservation in government jobs.
Under the Left formula, 53 sub-castes accounting for 87.1 per cent of the Muslim population were included in the list.
Soon after becoming the chief minister, Mamata had announced a new law would replace the Left Front government's policy of reserving 17 per cent government jobs for OBCs, including disadvantaged sections of the Muslims.
Asked if the government was following in the footsteps of the Left Front government, backward classes welfare minister Upen Biswas told The Telegraph: "Political parties come and go but the system remains. As the West Bengal Commission for Backward Classes has recommended the inclusion of more sub-castes in the OBC category, including Muslim sub-castes, we are doing so."
Biswas had engaged the Cultural Research Institute to conduct a survey and ascertain the backwardness of 35 sub-castes, of which 33 are Muslim. The institute functions under his department.
Based on the survey, the department has suggested that out of the 35 sub-castes, 25, including two Hindu sub-castes, be included in the backward category and the remaining in the more backward group. The file has been sent to the chief minister for approval.
Reservation in government jobs for OBCs was increased to 17 per cent from 7 per cent by the Left government in 2010. The 7 per cent reservation that already existed for "backward OBCs" covered 52 sub-castes, of which only four sub-castes were Muslim. But in the 10 per cent added in that year, dubbed "more backward OBCs", there were 56 sub-castes, of which 49 were Muslim.
Even though a bill to this effect had been passed in the Assembly in 2010, the governor is yet to give his assent. But the Left had implemented the reservation for OBCs by issuing an executive order in September 2010. The decision was challenged in Calcutta High Court. The case is still being heard but no stay order has been issued.
Officials at Writers' said the new government was forced to follow the Left's strategy as there was no option for reservation based on religion.
"The Left Front government had reserved 10 per cent jobs for Muslims through the backdoor by bringing a maximum number of Muslim sub-castes in the more backward category. The new government has to follow the same path as it has no other option to reserve jobs for them," an official said.
"Although the chief minister had announced that the new government would reconsider the reservation policy adopted by the Left Front government, the backward classes welfare department has ordered that the degree of backwardness of several sub-castes should be ascertained and divided into two groups — backward and more backward," another official added.