Cong prepares to cast its net wide

The Bill has raised hopes of regional outfits who believe that "the wronged OBC and Muslims" may gradually gravitate towards them, as the controversial measure to offer separate reservation for Muslim and OBC women within the Bill, which has been debated for long, was finally rejected.

The buzz is that the Congress may counter regional satraps by seeking to implement the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission report that has recommended 15 per cent reservation to minorities in education, Central and state government jobs. The report was laid in both Houses on November 18, 2009. 

Regional leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav, who have been losing grip over the “Muslims part” of the MY (Muslim-Yadav) winning combination, are now hopeful that women’s reservation could give them a handle to again whip up Muslim-OBC sentiments to counter the Congress in battleground states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
 The slogan like “utho dalit, pichhde, musalman, milkar banao Hindustan (dalits, backwards and Muslims rise, unite to build the country) and “Congress, BJP ki ghazab ki yaari, sabki maari hissedari” (Congress, BJP strange bedfellows, they have prevented participation of all sections), by the SP and RJD are indicative of their immediate gameplan to turn Muslims and the OBCs against the Congress.

Congress strategists are wary of the BJP (which does not have to worry on losing Muslim votes) may walk away with the lion’s share of women's gratitude, leaving the Congress party to re-work its equation with the Muslim electorate.

 A series of measures taken by the Congress, including the implementation of the Justice Sacchar committee recommendations to improve the lot of Muslims, had brought Muslim electorate in UP towards the Congress. The last Lok Sabha poll had given positive results to the Congress that had become “almost untouchable” since 1992, the year of Babri demolition.  

The political fallout of  33 per cent women reservation in Parliament and assemblies cannot be measured in the short turn. The support of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar for the Bill, until recently opposing it, is an indication that the Congress may have done its home work before rejecting quota for Muslims and OBCs.

 It is strongly felt that the Congress think tank may soon make up for the alleged injustice against the Muslims by implementing the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission report which has recommended 15% quota to minorities in education, Central and State government jobs. The women’s quota, it seems, is not the end of “the quota politics” within and outside Parliament.

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