Fielding Uma In UP Shows BJP Is Politically Bankrupt, Says Digvijay

Lucknow, Jan 21:  Congress leader DigvijaySingh today said BJP's decision to field Uma Bharti shows its “total bankruptcy” of leaders in the state.However, he dismissed allegations that he was communalising elections by raking up issues
fielding uma in up shows bjp is politically...
PTI January 21, 2012 15:04 IST

Lucknow, Jan 21:  Congress leader DigvijaySingh today said BJP's decision to field Uma Bharti shows its “total bankruptcy” of leaders in the state.

However, he dismissed allegations that he was communalising elections by raking up issues like Batla House encounter and reservation for Muslims. 

Singh, who is known to aggressively woo the minorities for the Congress, said his party does not mind Narendra Modi campaigning in Uttar Pradesh.

Singh,  who has come under fresh attack from BJP's Hindutva face Uma Bharti, hit out at the BJP for fielding her in UP elections.

“I must say, that in all this one thing that comes out clearly is that there is a total bankruptcy of leaders in BJP's UP unit. That is why they had to import a leader from Madhya Pradesh.....But we don't take her seriously,” Singh told PTI.

The Congress leader charged the BJP with deliberately polarising the elections in UP as it has no issues.

In reply to a question, Singh said he “does not mind”Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi campaigning in UP. 

Though Singh claimed Congress would get a clear majority in UP, he did not rule out alliances in case there is a hung Assembly.

“It all depends on the results. But we are not answering any hypothetical questions,” Singh said. 

On the reservation issue, Singh, who is in the thick of the Congress election campaign in Uttar Pradesh, insisted that the 4.5 per cent quota within OBC quota was not religion-based reservation but merely a sub-categorisation” to ensure that backward sections within the minorities got their due. 

“The 4.5 per cent reservation is a sub-categorisation within OBC quota so that backwards among the minorities are ‘ensured' that they get their fair share. It is not based on religion.As it is, the backwards among the minorities are getting reservation within the OBC quota. The 4.5 per cent quota has been given to ensure that these backward minorities get their due share,” he said.

When asked what was the need for a separate quota within quota if backwards among minorities were already benefitting from OBC reservations, Singh claimed that though the backward castes among minorities have been included within the 27 per cent for OBCs, they have not been the real beneficiaries and this 4.5 per cent quota would help them. 

Singh denied that this decision and its timing were aimed at winning Muslim votes.

However, he agreed that since the percentage of OBCs in other minority communities- Christians, Parsis and Sikhs, among others- was small, the biggest beneficiaries would be Muslims.
“The Sikhs have an OBC population but their number is minimal,” he said.

The former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister also justified Law Minister Salman Kurshid's promise of 9 per cent reservation to minorites in place of the 4.5 per cent.  Congress had distanced itself from Kurshid's comments, saying these were his personal views.

“The 4.5 per cent quota within quota is for backwards among minorities across the country. Muslims constitute 13 per cent of the country's population. Kurshid was talking about minorities in Uttar Pradesh where Muslims are 18 per cent,” Singh said.

Singh insisted that the over Rs 7,000 crore package given by the Centre to weavers was not aimed at Muslims alone.  “The package is for all weavers whether in the handloom or power loom sector,” he said.

Around 95 per cent of the weavers in UP belong to the Muslim community.

On the Batla House encounter and his meeting with the family members of the suspects, he said, “I have made it abundantly clear that I had gone to Azamgarh only to ascertain the facts. A totally secular place which did not see any communal riots even during the Babri demolition or earlier suddenly became so communal.... I can only promise a fair, free and speedy trial in the case.”

Asked about his reported differences with Home Minister P Chidambaram on the issue, the Congress leader maintained there were none.

“Chidambaram has not said he cannot ensure a free, fair and speedy trial. That is for the courts to decide. I had only met the Home Minister and the Law Minister to request that special courts be set up to try these cases,” Singh said. 

He alleged that 26 boys had cases “slapped against them” merely for talking to Atif, killed in the Batla House encounter, on the phone. These boys had no criminal records, he added.

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