Facing flak, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao reiterated on Monday that the proposal to hike quota for Muslims is not based on religion but on their socio-economic backwardness.
He told the state assembly that the Backward Classes Commission was looking into socio-economic conditions of Muslims and after the receipt of its report, a bill will be tabled to enhance the quota by "five to six percent".
He said the assembly would be adjourned sine die but not prorogued. "Another session will be convened in four to five days to discuss and pass the bills for increasing the quota for backward classes among minorities and the Scheduled Tribes," he said.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) had promised in 2014 elections that the quota for Muslims in jobs and education will be increased from current 4% to 12%. It has also promised to hike the quota for tribals from 7.5% to 12%.
KCR, as the chief minister is popularly known, said the backwards among minorities were already classified as Backward Classes (E) and were availing the quota.
A committee headed by a former IAS officer last year conducted a survey of Muslims in the state and submitted a report to the government, recommending an increase in quota. The government asked the Backward Classes Commission to conduct another study.
However, the government's move is facing opposition from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which argued that there is no provision in the Constitution for providing quota on the basis of religion.
As the two bills will take the overall reservation in the state to beyond the upper limit of 50%, Chandrasekhar Rao said the government will approach both the Centre and the Supreme Court to allow the state to provide more than 50% reservation as was done for Tamil Nadu, where the overall quota was 69%.
"The social composition of newly created Telangana state is such that 90% of the population is weaker sections. We can't have a reservation limit of 50%," he said.
KCR agreed that there was a need to increase quota for backward classes and said the commission would be asked to conduct a comprehensive survey of socio-economic conditions of various BC communities and submit a report.