The Congress on Monday said there was "nothing unusual" in the Supreme Court's refusal to stay the Andhra Pradesh high court order quashing 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities in central educational institutions.
"I have not read the Supreme Court order. It asks the petitioner for more material. There is nothing unusual about it. Nothing much should be read into it," party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters.
In the case, the apex court expressed its "unhappiness" that the Centre was blaming the high court when it had itself failed to produce documents to support its case.
A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar was critical of the ministry of human resource development rushing to the apex court with the appeal against the May 28 order of the high court without documents to justify the policy of carving out 4.5 per cent sub-quota within the 27 per cent OBC reservation.
The BJP, on the other hand, welcomed the Supreme Court's refusal and claimed that the Congress-led government's attempt to rake up the "communal agenda" for vote-bank politics has been defeated.
"The Congress has been steadfastly and continuously following the communal agenda. We saw it in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. In spite of the results in these elections, with the message that voters have rejected the communal agenda, the Congress has not learnt its lessons," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.
The BJP leader pointed out that Defence Minister A K Antony, who was given the responsibility of submitting a report on the reasons for the poor performance of Congress in UP and other states, had listed minority sub-quota issue as a factor.
Sitharaman quoted an earlier high court observation that the Centre had acted in a "casual manner" in the matter and criticised its Office Memorandum, which created the sub-quota on religious criteria.
The BJP maintained that the need for quota is decided by the Backward Class Commission and the government did not ever go to it for consultations.
"Like a magician, they pulled this (sub-quota) out of their hat. It was not in their manifesto. Such reservation politics has been overwhelmingly rejected by the people,"
Accusing the Congress of appeasement of minorities and adopting a "divide and rule" policy, Sitharaman said, "They (Congress) do not have the conviction to run this country on an agenda which will benefit all. They want to have this divide and rule policy and appeasement politics."
She said, "The BJP demands that the government focuses on issues which are affecting all its citizens."
On the Supreme Court verdict, she said, "In this particular case, we know it is not a final verdict. We know it is not an end of the story on the appeal. But it just shows repeatedly that they are in a hurry to keep up this agenda of appeasing minorities. They are not even doing their homework. They did not do it during the UP elections."
Sitharaman said the Congress Party just continues its "political mind scoring" by trying to appease a particular section of our society which overwhelmingly has rejected this reservation politics.
"The reservation politics has been rejected and that came out very clearly in the Uttar Pradesh elections," she said.
The BJP spokesperson said, "The Congress Party wants to continue its appeasement politics and when things cannot be fitted into this Constitutional framework, they brazenly go about talking about reservation."
Attacking the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, she said, "They don't talk about tackling poverty....they do not want to talk about inflation or price control. No infrastructure development interests them. Repeatedly with haste and hurry, they are playing with the sentiment of minorities."
Noting that people are desperate for good development and good governance, which she claimed has been proved in the UP elections, the BJP leader said, "The Congress Party has no answers on these grounds. They are only going on the minority appeasement agenda in spite of repeatedly being told this is not sustainable under the present Constitution".
"We just would like to tell Congress that they should be focusing their attention doing their homework and be answerable to the people for their failures on the economic front," he said.