The Karnataka government on Friday announced its decision to scrap the four per cent quota for minorities and add it to the existing quota of two dominant communities of the poll-bound state.
The 4 per cent reservation given to Muslims under 2B classification of the OBC category will now be divided into two equal parts and added to the existing quota of Vokkaligas and Lingayats for whom two new reservation categories of 2C and 2D were created during the Belagavi Assembly Session last year.
The cabinet decided to bring the religious minorities under the EWS category.
The decision comes ahead of the assembly elections.
Briefing reporters after the cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the religious minorities quota would be done away with and brought under the 10 percent pool of the EWS category without any change of condition.
"The four per cent (reservation for minorities) will be divided into two between 2C and 2D. The four per cent reservation for the Vokkaligas and others will be enhanced to six per cent and Veerashaiva Panchamasali and others (Lingayats), who are getting five per cent reservation will now get seven per cent," the CM explained.
The Cabinet had abolished 3A and 3B categories of reservation for Vokkaligas and Lingayats respectively and replaced them with two new categories of 2C and 2D last December.
Defending the decision to abolish the quota for Muslims, Bommai said there was no constitutional provision for religious minorities.
Citing a court verdict striking down the reservation provided for minorities in Andhra Pradesh, the CM said the architect of the Indian constitution B R Ambedkar too had said that reservations were for caste.
"However, we cannot drop that community entirely. With a view that there should not be any problem, the religious minorities...if someone challenges reservation to them, we decided to take a proactive decision. In fact they will go from 4 per cent to the 10 percent pool of the EWS group without any change of condition," Bommai explained.
Muslims are divided into three reservation categories - 1, 2A and 2B.
The extremely backward religious minorities, who form the sub-sects of Muslims such as Pinjara, Nadaf, Daroji, Chapparband and are enlisted in category 1, will remain undisturbed and in the same reservation list.
Similarly, the government did not touch the Muslim communities under 2A category.
"Some other Muslim sub-sects in the 2B category will not be disturbed. They will only be moved to the EWS quota on the same conditions," Bommai said.
There are some more small backward communities, who find mention in the Backward Commission's report.
They never figured in any list including the backward list. They are not in any category. Regarding them, the Backward Commission has mentioned in its second list. I will study the report in detail. Our government will take further decision on it in the coming cabinet.
Already, a recommendation has been sent to the Centre to include two shepherd communities 'Kadu Kuruba' and 'Gonda Kuruba' spread over four districts in the ST category.
Further, the union government has made some references to two to three communities including Kadu Gollaru and Koli communities seeking the opinion of the department.Bommai also said that the government will notify the communities under the EWS category.
Also, a decision was taken with regard to the SC community that 6 percent reservation would be given to SC left sub-category, 5.5 percent to SC right, '4.5 percent to touchables and 1 percent to others. Hailing the announcement, Adichunchanagiri Math pontiff and Vokkaliga leader Nirmalanandanatha Swami said the demand was made for 12 per cent reservation keeping in view the condition of the community.
"Given the situation, the government has increased the reservation from four per cent to six per cent for which we thank the government. We welcome the move," he said.
The Panchamasali community of the Lingayat sect and the Vokkaligas have been demanding a hike in reservation for quite a long time.