The controversial issue of OBC sub-quota for minorities has intensified the race among political parties to woo the crucial Muslim vote in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has used the issue to target the Congress by claiming that the sub-quota is meant for minorities and not Muslims alone and was akin to backstabbing.
In a letter to Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Yadav said the UPA-led central government has cheated Muslims by setting up the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission but not implementing its recommendations.
"...I want to assure you that our party will, and has been, fighting on the issue with sincerity," he said.
Yadav's letter is in response to a note sent by the Shahi Imam to the SP chief in which he had suggested means to "once again win back" the support of Muslims in the Assembly elections.
"You know the reason behind Muslims' angst towards SP in the last Lok Sabha polls...," Bukhari had written to Yadav last month.
"I have firm views on granting Muslims reservation in education and employment. Based on the reservation provided to them in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, I will try to give them reservation to the extent nobody has provided so far as soon as my party comes to power," Yadav said.
He said he would consult legal experts, intellectuals and social organisations to provide reservation to Muslims.
Out of the five poll-bound states, Muslim population is the maximum in Uttar Pradesh (around 18 per cent). By writing to the Shahi Imam, Yadav has tried to give out a message that SP was serious on the issue and it could form part of its election manifesto to be released soon.
The Election Commission may have asked the government not to implement the 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities in five poll-bound states, but the issue has remained a favourite topic for leaders of various political parties during election campaigns.
Yadav said SP's successive governments have done a lot for the uplift of Muslims and he could even go for a survey to ascertain their backwardness.
He said a separate commission could also be set up for the purpose which would also look into the various problems being faced by the community, including being branded as terrorists.
In his December 23 letter to Yadav, the Shahi Imam had suggested that the SP should include issues like implementing the Ranganath Mishra Commission and Sachar Committee recommendations in its election manifesto.
BJP has opposed the 4.5 per cent sub quota for minorities by arguing that the move will not only divide the state on communal lines but also widen the divide among the OBCs.