The Other Backward Communities (OBC) morcha of the BJP’s West Bengal unit has accused the Mamata Banerjee government of depriving Hindu OBCs by accommodating more Muslims in the OBC quota and announced a week-long state-wide campaign next month in protest.
“We will carry out a week-long campaign in all Assembly constituencies to let people know that the government is depriving Hindus by allotting more than half of the OBC quota to Muslims, even though Hindu OBCs constitute bigger chunk of the population than Muslims,” said Swapan Pal, president of state BJP’s OBC morcha.
The Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and OBCs had supported BJP in a big way in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Hindu OBCs are dominant in Purulia, Jhargram, Krishnanagar, Hooghly, Balurghat, Bankura and Midnapore Lok Sabha seats. Of these, TMC won only Krishnanagar.
“We will read out before crowds the list of OBC communities enjoying reservation and will leave it to the people to draw their conclusion. It’s crystal clear and no one will have any difficulty in getting the picture,” said Pal.
BJP plans to drive the campaign with decked-up e-rickshaws that will go to all gram panchayat areas in all assembly segments carrying party’s message.
While the 2011 census report does not mention the population share of the OBC communities, they get 17 per cent reservation in jobs and education in Bengal, SCs, who comprise 23.5 per cent of the population get 22 per cent reservation and STs, who constitute 6 per cent of the population, get 6% reservation.
According to government data, OBC certificates have been issued to 3,116,151 persons from the OBC communities since 2011 including those in OBC ‘A’ and OBC ‘B’ category.
OBC ‘A’ includes ‘more backward classes’ with 61 out of its 81 communities being Muslims while 38 out of the 96 communities in the OBC ‘B’ category are Muslims. Of the 17 per cent reservation for OBCs, 10 per cent is reserved for OBC ‘A’ category and 7 per cent for the ‘B’ category.
The Mamata Banerjee government has repeatedly claimed to have brought 99 per cent of the state’s 27.05 per cent Muslim population within the ambit of reservation for OBCs.
Sunil Kumar Mondal, TMC MP from Bardhaman Purba (East) and president of TMC’s SC, ST and OBC wing, alleged the BJP was trying to mislead people.
“The reservation for Muslims under OBC category was done following the recommendations of the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee. BJP is trying to turn a non-issue into an issue to divert people’s attention because it is facing the wrath of the masses over its repeated threats to implement citizenship screening exercise in the state,” said Mondal.
According to political analyst Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay, former principal of Presidency College, BJP’s OBC morcha’s plan follows success of its community-specific approach.
While BJP has separate morchas for SCs, STs, and OBCs, TMC has only one for the three communities and it remained virtually defunct till Mamata Banerjee instructed its revival after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.