A BJP MLA in Karnataka has demanded that reservation in jobs and educational institutions to Muslims and Christians be withdrawn.
Arvind Chandrakanth Bellad, BJP MLA from Hubballi-Dharwad (West) constituency, who has led several protests against alleged religious conversions in a bid to position himself as a Hindutva leader, has now asked the government to completely do away with reservation to religious minorities and reallocate it to Lingayats and other Hindu backward classes.
It has been four days since Karnataka’s Basavaraj Bommai government provided an in-principle nod to enhance reservation for Scheduled Caste (SC) communities from 15 to 17 percent and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities from three to seven percent as per the Justice Nagamohan Das Report.
This decision by the ruling BJP party comes ahead of elections in Karnataka.
MLA Bellad’s letter
Now, a letter dated 4 September from Arvind Bellad has emerged. In the letter addressed to Chief Minister Bommai, Bellad has asked the BJP government to “not repeat Congress’ mistake and withdraw all reservations offered to religious minorities under the OBC quota”.
The move is in-line with the BJP’s push for Hindutva and Lingayat consolidation ahead of the Assembly polls. South First has reported on how the saffron party is depending entirely on Money, Modi and Hindutva to help in sail through the elections in the face of anti-incumbency, a leadership crisis and corruption allegations.
The BJP MLA has suggested that the reservations given to Muslims and Christians be withdrawn and re-distributed to other “oppressed communities” in the state, including sub-sects of the Lingayat community.
Bellad is himself a Panchamasali Lingayat and has been at the forefront of drumming up an agitation seeking reservations for the community.
In his letter to the chief minister, Bellad stated: “According to our Constitution, the reservations were given to the people on the basis of caste, but not on the basis of religion. During the previous Congress government, the reservations which were supposed to be given to the OBC has been granted to Muslims and Christians.
‘Christians, Muslims already developed’
“These communities are already getting enough funds for their development from the Centre and the state government through their respective minority ministries, and these communities have already developed considerably.”
He further added: “To set right the injustice done to the OBCs in the state, we should curtail the reservations given to Muslims and Christians under the OBC quota and, instead, those reservations should be given to Lingayat’s Panchamasali, other sub-sects of the Lingayat communities, Kuruba, Marathi, and other oppressed backward communities.”
Speaking to the South First, the MLA from Hubbali-Dharwad (West) said: “At present, there is an exclusive reservation under Category 2B for Muslims which is four percent, but they also claim reservation under Category 2A. For example, in my own constituency, there are certain communities of Muslims availing the quota under 2A and they are also allowed to avail facilities under Category 1. With this, they contest elections and win local body elections. The same thing applies to the minority Christians as well.”
Karnataka’s current reservation status
With the Union government’s decision to introduce 10 percent reservation under EWS (economically weaker section) category for socially-forward communities, practically all communities in Karnataka are eligible for benefits under reservation.
Excluding the EWS quota, castes and communities were classified into seven categories for reservation in Karnataka.
SCs get 15 percent, STs 3 percent and 32 percent is reserved for OBCs and religious minorities.
The 32 percent is distributed among Category 1 (four percent), Category 2A (15 percent), Category 2B (four percent), 3A (including Vokkaligas and subcastes, four percent) and 3B (including Lingayats and 42 subcastes, five percent).
Category 1 covers 95 castes and their subcastes, including SC converts to Christianity. Category 2A covers 102 castes and their subcastes, including Buddhists sects. Category 2B covers Muslims. Category 3A covers three castes, including Vokkaligas and their subcastes, while Category 3B covers six castes, including Lingayats and their subsects, and Christians.
Except for SC/ST and Category 1, all other categories are restricted by the “creamy layer” clause and the ₹8 lakh per annum income limit.