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  4. Why did PM Modi take 'wealth to Muslims' jibe at Congress? The answer lies in Congress party's past actions

Why did PM Modi take 'wealth to Muslims' jibe at Congress? The answer lies in Congress party's past actions

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in Rajasthan’s Banswara on Sunday that the Congress was set to hand over the wealth of others to "infiltrators" and "those who have more children".

Written By: Varun Sharma @Poldip New Delhi Published on: April 23, 2024 15:39 IST
Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi
Image Source : INDIA TV Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

New Delhi: Prime Narendra Modi's statement at the Banswara rally in Rajasthan on Sunday created a political storm ahead of the second phase of the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 with allegations and counter-allegations galore from all quarters. The Prime Minister during the rally attacked the Congress party and said that if the 'Grand Old Party' came to power it would redistribute the wealth of people to Muslims and cited former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2006 remark that the minority community had the first claim on the country's resources. 

PM Modi said the Congress had announced that it would conduct a survey to find out the property of individuals, gold owned by women, silver mostly owned by tribal families, land and cash belonging to government employees and others, and redistribute it among those 'with more children'. "This urban-naxal mindset, my mothers and sisters, they will not even leave your 'Mangalsutra'. They can go to that level," PM Modi said in Banswara.

The PM also took a swipe at the Congress party's election manifesto 'Nyay Patra' and alleged that the party is trapped in the clutches of the Leftists and urban Naxals and that what Congress has said in its manifesto is serious and worrying. 

Why did PM Modi take a 'wealth re-distribution' jibe at Congress?

According to sources, PM Modi's address in Rajasthan is directly linked with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's April 6 statement in Hyderabad on 'wealth re-distribution'. "We will do a caste census so that the backwards, SCs, STs, poor of general castes and minorities get to know how much they account for in the country. Thereafter, a financial and institutional survey to find who holds the country's wealth will be taken up. Whatever is your right, we will work on giving you the same," Rahul Gandhi said.

What did Congress promise in its manifesto? 

The Congress released its manifesto on April 5 and promised a nationwide socio-economic and caste census. "Congress will conduct a nation-wide socio-economic and caste census to enumerate the castes and sub-castes and their socio-economic conditions. Based on the data, we will strengthen the agenda for affirmative action," reads the manifesto. 

Some other parts of the Congress manifesto which could be seen as referring to redistribution are: 

The Congress guarantees that it will pass a constitutional amendment to raise the 50 per cent cap on reservations for SC, ST and OBC. 

Congress will establish an authority to monitor the distribution to the poor of government land and surplus land under the land ceiling Acts. 

We will address the growing inquality of wealth and income through suitable changes in policies

Parts of the Congress manifesto from the 'minorities' section:
We will encourage and assist students and youth belonging to the minorities to take full advantage of the growing opportunities in education, employment, business, services, sports, arts another fields. 

We will ensure that the minorities receive their fair share of opportunities in education, healthcare, public employment, public works contracts, skill development, sports and cultural activities without discrimination. 

According to sources, the BJP believes that the Congress manifesto's point that says 'encourage minorities to take full advantage of opportunities' and another point that reads 'ensure minorities receive fair share' on the same issues indicate reservation for Muslims. The Congress party's guarantee that a 50 per cent limit on reservations will be raised also hints at that direction if all the points are taken together. 

Congress's record on Muslim reservation

The Congress party's track record on Muslim reservation has been controversial since 2004. The Andhra Pradesh government of the Congress tried to implement Muslim reservation four times between the period of 2004 and 2010 but failed due to the intervention by the Andhra Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court as there is a 50 per cent limit set by courts on the reservation. 

Let's see the timeline:

July 12, 2004: The newly elected Congress government in Andhra Pradesh led by YSR Reddy announced its decision to introduce a 5 per cent reservation for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions.
September 21, 2004: Andhra Pradesh High Court quashed the order of Muslim reservation.

November, 2004: In response, the Congress CM YSR Reddy set up the D Subrahmanyam Commission in November 2004.

June 14, 2005: Justice D Subrahmanyam Commission submitted its report recommending the inclusion of Muslims and accorded five per cent reservation. The recommendation, if implemented, would have breached the 50 per cent limit set by the Supreme Court.

June 20, 2005: To overcome the HC order quashing the Muslim reservation, the Andhra Pradesh government issued an ordinance for a 5 per cent Muslim reservation in educational institutions and jobs.

October 25, 2005: The state had moved a bill in the Assembly, converting the ordinance into an act, based on a report also submitted to it by the Andhra Pradesh Commission for Backward Classes (APBC).

November 21, 2005: A five-judge bench of the Andhra High Court held that reservations for Muslims were unconstitutional. The HC held that identifying Muslims as a backward class was based on unscientific and defective criteria.

December 14, 2005: The Andhra Pradesh government challenged the HC decision in the Supreme Court.

January 4, 2006: The SC granted a limited interim stay on the HC verdict. Those already recruited based on the reservation act were allowed to stay on but all future recruitments based on the reservation were stopped.

2006: Arjun Singh, one of the senior-most Cabinet ministers in the Manmohan Singh government, also reiterated that Muslims can be given reservation.

April 17, 2007: With both the Andhra HC and the SC holding that the recommendations of the Andhra Pradesh Commission for Backward Classes (APBC) were unscientific and had no connection to ground realities, the Andhra government referred the matter afresh to the Backward Classes Commission and also to another group headed by retired civil servant PS Krishnan.

June 11, 2007: PS Krishan submitted a report which identified 14 backward groups among Muslims.

July 3, 2007: The Andhra Pradesh Backward Commission recommended a 4 per cent reservation for 15 groups among Muslims.

July 7, 2007: Based on a new recommendation of ABPC, the Andhra government again issued an order for a 4 per cent reservation for Muslims.

February 8, 2010: A seven-judge Constitution bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court by a majority judgement of 5:2 held that the law providing 4 per cent reservation to backward-class Muslims in the state was unsustainable and violative of Article 14, 15(1) and 16(2) of the Constitution.

March 25, 2010: The Supreme Court in an interim measure upheld the constitutional validity of the 4 per cent reservation and referred the matter to a Constitutional bench for final adjudication.

December 22, 2011: The UPA government issued an Office Memorandum carving out a sub-quota of 4.5 per cent for Muslims, out of the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in central educational institutions and jobs.

May 29, 2012: The Andhra HC quashed this latest 4.5 per cent Muslim reservation move by the central government as well. 

June 13, 2012: The SC refused to stay the Andhra HC order. The SC said the reservation order of the UPA government was based entirely on religious consideration and not supported by the Constitution.

June 5, 2013: K Rahman Khan, the minority affairs minister, again stated the UPA is committed to implement a 4.5 per cent Muslim quota.

February 2014: Finally, the UPA government went to the SC to plead for Muslim reservation. The SC agreed to club the central Muslim quota case of the UPA government with the Andhra Pradesh Muslim quota case and hear the matter through a Constitutional bench.

Karnataka reservation case:

The Karnataka government led by the BJP in 2023 scrapped the Muslim quota of 4 per cent and increased the quota of Lingayats and Vokkaligas by 2 per cent each. However, Congress leaders promised restoration of the Muslim quota if voted back to power just ahead of the Karnataka Assembly Elections in 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders are attacking the Congress and Rahul Gandhi on this record of the party in the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections. Perhaps Congress needs to go back to introspect on its track record and actions in the past.


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