BJP ally, TDP’s chief Naidu, vows to continue 4% reservation to Muslims even as Modi says ‘No’ to it in rallies

On 30 April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi categorically said that as long as he was alive, he would not allow reservations to Muslims.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published May 03, 2024 | 11:19 AMUpdatedMay 03, 2024 | 11:23 AM

Naidu had said that the TDP was committed to the four percent reservations to Muslims. (X)

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in rally after rally, is promising to scrap reservation for Muslims, BJP’s ally in Andhra Pradesh is singing a different tune.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) national president N Chandrababu Naidu has promised to continue the four percent reservations for Muslims if voted to power in Andhra Pradesh.

His statement came as a surprise since the BJP, which is part of the tripartite alliance headed by the TDP in the state, is against reservations based on religion, as repeatedly highlighted by PM Modi.

Addressing Praja Galam, an election rally in Guntur, on Thursday, 2 May, the TDP supremo said reservations being provided under the OBC category would continue.

He further said that a team of advocates was working on getting the issue resolved in the Supreme Court.

The issue of reservations has been a touchy issue for the BJP, the INDIA bloc, the TDP, and even the YSRCP.

Related: ‘As long as I’m alive, won’t allow quota for Muslims on basis of religion’: PM Modi

A different tune

In Telangana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi categorically told an election rally that as long as he was alive, he would not allow reservations to Muslims. He said the four percent quota would be transferred to Scheduled Castes, Tribes, and Backward Communities.

The continuation of reservation for Muslims was conspicuous by its absence in the joint TDP-Jana Sena-BJP manifesto unveiled recently in Andhra Pradesh. The reservation issue was dropped apparently because of the saffron party’s opposition to religion-based reservations.

Two days ahead of the release of the manifesto, Naidu had said that the TDP was committed to the four percent reservations to Muslims.

Naidu, after aligning with the BJP, has been trying to worm his way into the hearts of Muslims by reiterating that he was committed to the reservations for Muslims.

The TDP cadres were already a little nervous over the possible political backlash the party might face due to its alliance with the saffron party.

Also Read: Amit Shah asks leaders to counter ‘BJP wants to change Constitution’ claims

BJP firm on reservation issue

Even before the alliance was formalised, the BJP had said it was against extending reservations to Muslims. It made its stand clear when Naidu requested the BJP to include the continuation of reservation in the joint manifesto.

At a meeting with central minister Piyush Goyal and BJP general secretary Arun Singh in the later part of April, Nadiu raised the issue, but Goyal put his foot firmly down.

Naidu argued that the absence of a commitment to continue reservations to the Muslims might hamper the prospects of the three parties, but it did not cut any ice with the BJP.

Goyal reportedly told him that the BJP was in favour of reservations for SCs, STS, OBCs, and EWS but not for any group based on religion.

At the Praja Galam, Naidu said that the welfare schemes meant for the Muslims would continue after he came to power and that he was always at the forefront of protecting their interests.

Also Read: Mohan Bhagwat backs reservations amid BJP-Congress row over quota

Naidu’s bid to woo Muslims

Muslims were not attacked when he was the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, he claimed. So was the case when N Kiran Kumar Reddy was the chief minister of the undivided Andhra Pradesh, Naidu added.

Kiran Kumar Reddy is now with the BJP.

The YSRCP, meanwhile, lost no time in exploiting the contradiction in the tripartite alliance.

YSRCP general secretary Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy demanded at a news conference on Thursday that the TDP should end the confusion by coming out clear whether it was differing with the BJP on the reservation for Muslims issue.

“Let Naidu come out clear on his stand vis-a-vis BJP’s policy of doing away reservations to any group based on religion,” he said.

Also Read: BJP-RSS has always wanted to change India’s Constitution

(Edited by Majnu Babu).