NEW DELHI: Toeing his colleague Salman Khurshid’s line, Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma has stated that Muslims would be given enhanced reservation if the Congress is voted to power, and dared the Election Commission to take action against him for the statement. “Muslim reservation will be increased. Now, the EC may, if it wants, issue notice to me,” Beni said at Farrukhabad. The EC, which is reviewing the CD containing his speech, is yet to decide as to whether a notice should be served to Beni.
Earlier, the EC had issued a notice to Khurshid for his minority sub-quota statement, which he initially defied, but retracted later when the EC wrote to President Pratibha Patil requesting her to intervene.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress, a Congress ally, flayed Beni’s statement and demanded that he should be barred from campaigning
for the Uttar Pradesh elections.
“Initially, Salman Khurshid had come out saying 9 per cent reservation be given to the Muslims though there was no such decision at the government level. Now it is Beni Prasad. They think that Muslims would bite this bait. They are talking rubbish. They are befooling people,” TMC general secretary and Union Minister Sultan Ahmed said.
BJP Hits Out at PM’s ‘Deafening Silence’
The BJP said on Thursday that Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma’s promise of increased quotas for Muslims in Uttar Pradesh was another manifestation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s “deafening silence” on issues.
Had the Prime Minister acted against Law Minister Salman Khurshid, who got into trouble with the Election Commission over a similar promise and had to apologise, nobody would have dared repeat it, BJP leader Balbir Punj said, adds PTI.
“The silence of the Prime Minister is deafening and he should open his mouth about what he thinks. Had he acted on the Election Commission’s letter against Khurshid, nobody would have dared to repeat it,” he said.
“One instance could be a coincidence but attacking the Election Commission again and again... then there has to be a method. Congress is in a desperate situation as their yuvraj (Rahul Gandhi) has high stakes in UP and they are not getting any success,” said Punj.
He called the apology by Khurshid a half-hearted attempt just to get out of a sticky situation.
“One minister after another taking on the Election Commission cannot happen without the approval of party president Sonia Gandhi,” he added.
Addressing a political rally at Kayamganj Assembly constituency in Farrukhabad district on Wednesday, Verma had said: “Muslims don’t have their homes; they don’t have jobs and 70 per cent of them work as labourers.