By Mohammed Ali Shabbir
Categorised as BC (E), the economically and socially poor Muslims were extended benefits that were being given to Backward Classes. Thus, the benefit of political reservation being given to BCs in municipal and other local bodies (rural and urban) was also extended to Muslims coming under BC (E) category. It was implemented for the first time in the 2009 GHMC elections. Two Muslim candidates were elected from seats reserved for BCs.
In effect, it marked the first step towards political empowerment of the Muslim community. The major impact was seen in the Gram Panchayat (GP)elections held in 2013. The results were highly encouraging and for the first time in the history of undivided Andhra Pradesh, the number of Muslim sarpanchs crossed double century mark (266) due to BC (E) reservation. Prior to that touching even the double-figure mark was no less than cause for celebration!
While 89 Muslims were elected from 8701 Gram Panchayats in Telangana region, as many as 177 triumphed from a total of 12,770 GPs in Seemandhra.
The last elections to the municipal corporations, municipalities, ZPTCs and MPTCs have ensured the election of over 900 Muslims in both Telangana and residuary Andhra Pradesh to different posts. So far, BC (E) reservations have propelled three Muslims to the exalted Mayor posts, five Municipal Chairmen, 18 Vice-Chairmen, 37 Corporators, 327 Councillors, 15 ZPTCs, 236 MPTCs and 266 Sarpanchs, which is a remarkable achievement taken under any yardstick.
Sk Abudul Azeez and Shaik Noorjahan became Mayors of Nellore and Eluru, respectively. Both were elected from the seats reserved for BCs. Similarly, five out of four Muslim municipal chairmen were elected from the BC reserved seats in Andhra Pradesh. The lone Muslim Municipal Chairman of Telangana was a woman, Ms Sabiya Begum at Bhainsa, a BC (W) seat.
Seven out of 12 Muslims became Vice-Chairman in Telangana and 11 out of 12 VCs in Andhra Pradesh won from the BC reserved seats.
Reservation played a major role in increasing the community’s representation in all the municipal bodies. For instance, 24 Muslim candidates got elected from the 150 seats that went to polls in Karimnagar, Ramagundam and Nizamabad. Out of 24, as many as 13 were elected as BC (E) candidates. As against the present representation of 16%, the Muslim percentage in these corporations would have been just 7.33% had there been no reservation. This reflects a more than double representation and comes across as a true democratic elevation.
Similarly, 114 out of 206 Muslim councillors in Telangana were elected from BC reserved seats. Presently, their percentage in municipalities of Telangana is 14.72, which otherwise would have been less than half of it at a meagre 6.58%.
The impact of reservation has also been quite encouraging in Andhra Pradesh if one goes by the eventual outcome. Out of 31 Muslim corporators, 22 were elected from BC reserved seats. More significant was that of the 292 Muslim councillors, a whopping 213 were elected from BC reserved seats.
There were substantial gains in ZPTC and MPTC elections. Presently, 11 out of 12 Muslim ZPTCs members in Andhra Pradesh and four of nine Muslim ZPTCs made the grade in the BC (E) category. Likewise, 163 out of 262 Muslim MPTCs were elected as BC (E) nominees in Andhra Pradesh while 73 out of 138 MPTCs in Telangana were elected from BC reserved seats.
The impact was more pronounced in the 2016 GHMC elections.
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Without BC-E Reservation, there would have been only 17 Muslim corporators. In what can be seen as coming of age, there are presently 46 Muslims, which implies that from a modest 11.33% Muslim representation, it has today skyrocketed to 30.67% in GHMC.
In the previous sarpanch elections held in Telangana, of 12,017 Gram Panchayats, a total of 2,225 were reserved for Backward Classes. Of them, as many as 67 Muslims under BC-E category scored emphatic wins. Of 4,880 unreserved seats, 113 Muslim sarpanchs were also elected. As a result, today Telangana has 180 sarpanches with 67 of them getting elected only due to their categorisation as BC-E, thanks to the epoch-making decision taken by the Congress party in 2004.
Similarly, of 5,857 MPTCs in 539 mandals, a total of 114 Muslims made it through BC-E quota. They include 59 from TRS, 40 belonging to Congress, one each from CPI and TDP and 13 Independents.
Only one out of 538 ZPTCs is a Muslim. Shamshad Begum of TRS was elected from Alampur (Jogulamba Gadwal District).
Quota impact on employment:
While the data of employees recruited since 2004 is not readily available, information gathered by the T.S. Sudhir Commission gives a broader picture of how the four percent reservation benefitted the socially and economically backward Muslims in Telangana. Below is the extract of Sudhir Commission Report (Page No. 133)
“The Commission asked for data on the share of Muslims employees from 208 Government departments/Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). However, total 131 Departments have sent the data to the Commission. These 131 departments are organised in 23 Secretariat Departments. At the aggregate level of 23 Secretariat Departments, the share of Muslims in total 479,556 employees was 7.36%.
This shows that share of Muslims in the total employment is much less than the share of Muslim population of 12.68% (Census of India 2011) in the State. Department wise data shows that, in general, share of Muslim employees is lower in the departments where number of total employees is higher. Examples of such departments are Welfare Departments (with only 3.37% share of Muslim employees), Education Department (6.06% share of Muslim employees) Energy Department (6.53% share of Muslim employees) and Home Department (8.73% share of Muslim employees).”
Even the percentage of 7.36% became possible only due to the visionary four cent reservation that was effected in 2004-05. This is providing the spark to aspirants from the Muslim community and illuminating their households.
(Mohammed Ali Shabbir is a former minister & ex-Leader of Opposition in Telangana State Legislative Council)