Karnataka elections news: Yogi Adityanath slams Congress over ‘religion-based reservation’, Muslim quota row


Yogi Adityanath in Karnataka: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi was addressing a rally in Mandya district ahead of next month’s Assembly election.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath – unleashed in Karnataka to campaign for next month’s Assembly election, ahead of which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has seen multiple lawmakers, including former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, jump ship to the Congress – ripped into the opposition party Wednesday, accusing them of ‘appeasement politics’ and ‘religion-based reservation… which is against the Constitution’.

“We don’t believe in appeasement but empowerment,” Yogi said in Mandya.

The all-out attack by Yogi – seen by many as one of the BJP’s most potent campaign trail weapons – comes amid a row over the state’s controversial March 27 decision to scrap the 4 per cent OBC (other backward classes) quota for Muslims; Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai’s government cancelled the quota just weeks before the Assembly election due on May 10.

“(The) Congress talks about development but the reality (is) that the five-year schemes which they used to announce used to become a reality only after the scheme’s term ended… and soon after it would collapse. When PM Modi keeps the foundation of a scheme, he also inaugurates it.”

The BJP’s quota decision in Karnataka triggered furious protests by the Congress and a vow to restore the reservation should it be re-elected.

Protests also broke out over the re-distribution of the quota for jobs and admissions to educational institutions; it was doubled and split between between the Vokkaliga and Veerashaiva-Lingayats communities.

Both these communities are seen as significant vote-banks and chief minister Bommai belongs to the hugely influential Lingayat community.

Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar called the move ‘unconstitutional’ and told reporters, “They think reservation can be distributed like property… it is not property. It is the right (of a minority community) … we don’t want their 4 per cent to be scrapped and given to major communities.”

The Congress’ other major figure in the state – ex-chief minister and Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah – said the ruling BJP had ‘betrayed everyone’.

The Supreme Court this week called the government’s decision ‘prima facie shaky and flawed’. “… it is on the basis of an interim report. Why could you not wait for the final report? What was the great hurry?” the bench asked the Karnataka government before fixing April 18 as the next hearing date.

Importantly, the quota has been reinstated after the state government told the top court that it would not implement its order to scrap the reservation.