TMC needles Cong on Verma's minority sub-quota promise

The Trinamool Congress (AITC) closed ranks with the Opposition on Thursday, demanding that the Election Commission debar Union ministers Beni Prasad Verma and Salman Khurshid from poll campaigning in Uttar Pradesh for attempting to ''befool'' Muslims by promising 9 per cent quota for backward minorities.

“First, it was Salman Khurshid who said that 9 percent reservation would be given to Muslims even as there was no such decision at the level of the government. Now it is Beni Prasad. Both have violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and should be debarred from campaigning in the state. The Election Commission can debar such leaders,” trinamool Congress leader Sultan Ahmed, who is Minister of State for Tourism, said.

Ahmed’s reaction came after Verma, while addressing an election meeting in Farrukhabad from where Khurshid’s wife Loius Khursheed is contesting, on Wednesday evening said his party was committed to provide enhanced reservation to backward Muslims if it forms the government in Uttar Pradesh.

Describing the promises made by the two Congress leaders to UP’s minority community as a “political conspiracy” and an “attempt to befool the Muslims,” Ahmed said: “They (Verma and Khurshid) think that Muslims will bite this bait. This is not going to happen.” Although, he noted that Khurshid’s apology to the poll panel, Ahmed said the Union law minister and Verma were “not paying heed to the Election Commission which has to be be serious about it.”

The Trinamool Congress leader also sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention to clear the air on the issue of Muslim sub-quota. “Since it is the government of Manmohan Singh, he should say what the government is thinking on the issue. It is silent while its ministers are speaking,” Ahmed said.

He met Chief Election Commissioner S Y Qureishi and is understood to have discussed the minority quota issue and Verma’s remarks with him.

He lodged a written complaint with the poll panel, seeking suitable action allegedly against misuse of money power, suppression of election expenditure by rival political parties and misuse of police power in Lucknow, Pilibhit and Mathura.

Congress leaders spoke in differing voices on Verma's controversial remarks. While Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni disapproved of Verma’s remarks, Congress leader Mohan Prakash said there was nothing wrong in repeating things that political parties promise.

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