Hubballi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said reservation based on religion was unconstitutional, and asserted that the BJP would implement the quota formula adopted by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai-led government in Karnataka.
He said, BJP has given tickets for May 10 Assembly polls in Karnataka on merits of winnability, and not on the basis of majority or minority, and also nowhere a non-Lingayat candidate has replaced a Lingayat.
Former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar who recently quit BJP and joined Congress will not win the polls this time, Shah declared, as he pointed out that Hubballi-Dharwad has always voted for the BJP.
“I want to assure the people of Karnataka that whatever formula of reservation that has been adopted by the Bommai government, we would implement it on the ground, including the sub category reservation (internal reservation) among the Dalits. This is our promise,” Shah said.
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Addressing a press conference here, he said, reservation on the basis of religion was unconstitutional, and never would it have “permission” under the Constitution.
About the reservation crossing 50 per cent, Shah said, “it has been challenged in the court, wait for its order.”
Congress leaders are saying that they would once again bring in Muslim reservation. “I want to ask them with utmost humility as to whose will you reduce to bring it back? Whether you will reduce Vokkaligas or Lingayats or Dalits or STs (reservation). Congress will have to come out clear on this.”
“Those Muslim community categories that are under OBC, we are ready to give them reservation even today and we are giving, but no one should be given reservation based on religion, it is the fundamental spirit of the Constitution,” he added.
Just ahead of the announcement of polls in Karnataka, the State Cabinet led by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had decided to scrap the four per cent reservation for Muslims under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota and to distribute it equally among the dominant Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities.
Earlier, the government had decided to increase reservation for SCs from 15 per cent to 17 per cent and for STs from 3 per cent to 7 per cent, taking the total reservation in Karnataka to 56 per cent, exceeding the 50 per cent cap, and recommended to the Centre to bring it under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.
With a section of Scheduled Castes demanding internal reservation alleging that only a few influential sub-castes were taking away a majority of the benefits while many communities were still marginalised, the Cabinet had also made a recommendation in this regard to the Centre.
Asserting that there is no single instance of a non-Lingayat being given a ticket replacing a Lingayat, Shah hit out at the Congress by asking as to what the party did for the community.
“In their history Congress made two Lingayats Chief Ministers, both were humiliated and removed, one was removed by Indira Gandhi, while the other was humiliated and removed from airport by Rajiv Gandhi, I’m speaking about Patil Saab (Veerendra Patil), Congress cannot speak on this,” he said, as he added that BJP respects all communities and tries to take along everyone.
Asked about family members of politicians getting tickets, while BJP accused JD(S) of parivarwaad (dynastic), the Union Minister said, unlike in JD(S), in BJP party president and Chief Ministers are not decided on the basis of the family. “Tell me someone who is not contesting polls in JD(S) family (Deve Gowda family), other than one or two.”
“BJP is always against parivarwaad in the main system, at many places family members of party karyakartas may contest polls, but it doesn’t mean BJP follows parivarwaad,” he said.
To a question on Muslims not getting tickets from BJP, he said, “Tickets were given on the basis of merits of winnability, we do not believe in the concept of majority or minority.”
Responding to a question on Congress seeking support of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), Shah said, Congress party earlier used to take the support of Popular Front of India (PFI); now that it has been banned, it is asking support of its SDPI which is the political wing. “For Congress, secure and safe Karnataka is not important, winning elections is important. BJP will not join hands with such parties.
Jagadish Shettar quitting BJP will cause no loss to the party, he said, adding that “Jagadish Shettar will lose the election, Hubballi has always voted for BJP not to any person. BJP workers are united….reason for him not being given the ticket was conveyed to him.”
Jagadish Shettar is contesting from Hubballi – Dharwad Central constituency as Congress candidate.
On Shettar and former Deputy CM Laxman Savadi (who too quit the party recently), alleging that Lingayats were being humiliated in the BJP and holding party General Secretary B L Santosh responsible for it, Shah said, “BJP believes in team work and is not under any control of anyone. BJP Chief Minister (Bommai) himself is a Lingayat, what are they speaking (about party humiliating Lingayats)?”
In response to a question, he expressed confidence about BJP performing well and getting success in the Old Mysuru region, where the party is considered to be weak. “The BJP has entered the election race with the confidence of forming a full-majority government in Karnataka.”
Hitting out at the opposition parties, Shah said for Congress, welfare of Karnataka and its development is not an issue, and it is just grappling for its ATM in Karnataka; while on the other hand the JD(S) is a dynastic party that confronts Congress in the election but sides with it after the election only to gain power.