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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
State reserves jobs for Muslims
By Omer Farooq
BBC News, Hyderabad

VHP meeting
The hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad has opposed the move
Andhra Pradesh has become the first Indian state to pass a law to reserve jobs across the board for its minority Muslim community.

Five percent of government jobs and education places will be reserved for economically deprived Muslims.

The move was announced in June but was passed by the state legislature in a vote on Wednesday.

Two MPs of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party walked out in opposition but the bill then passed unanimously.

'Wooing vote'

The minister responsible for the welfare of lower classes, D Srinivas, who had moved the bill in the house, said the reservations for Muslims would not affect the 25% reservations to the lower classes.

The reservations to Muslims would be on top of that, he said.

Senior BJP leader, G Kishan Reddy, said that the new move was meant to woo the Muslim vote bank.

He said reservations based on religion were against the secular spirit of the constitution.

The hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, had also opposed the move.

The bill was drawn up on the recommendation of a special commission.

Muslims make up about 10% of the 78m population in Andhra Pradesh.

Under the policy, children of people earning more than 250,000 rupees ($5,700) a year will not be eligible for a reserved job.

Neither will be children of top government officials.


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