Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government plans to bring in a law to provide five per cent reservation to Muslims in government education institutions soon, Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik said here on Friday.

He informed the Legislative Council that the state government will introduce legislation to the effect soon in the matter which has been pending since long.

“We will ensure that the legislation to this effect is passed soon,” Malik said.

Responding to query by Congress member Sharad Ranpise, Malik said that suitable action will be taken in this regard before the start of the admissions for the next academic year.

The decision is in tune with the common minimum programme of the ruling Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress government and will be implemented after taking legal opinion in the matter.

However, Urban Development Minister and senior Sena leader Eknath Shinde said no decision had been taken on this issue yet.

“Leaders of the MVA will together take a call on policy decisions about giving reservation to any community. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will take appropriate decisions at appropriate time. No decision has been taken yet,” he told reporters.

Malik, however, reiterated outside the legislature what he had announced inside.

Meanwhile, amidst reported plans, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has hit out at the alliance government calling it “minority appeasement”.

Earlier this month, Congress-NCP leaders had said that they would explore legal options to provide job quotas also for the backward Muslims in the state.

It was in mid-2014 that the then Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government announced 16 per cent reservations to Marathas and five per cent to Muslims in government educational institutions and jobs to the two communities which comprise 32 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively, of the state’s 11 crore population.

The move was strongly criticised by then opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party. Later, after the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance with Devendra Fadnavis as Chief Minister took office in late 2014, the matter went into cold storage

In December 2018, after a series of agitations when the Marathas quotas were being finalised, Fadnavis had accused the then opposition Congress-NCP of misleading the Muslims on the issue of quotas.

He said that 52 backward castes among Muslims were given reservation by the previous Shiv Sena-BJP government of 1995-1999.

Fadnavis had pointed out that in order to give reservations, the castes needed to be first declared as ‘backward’ for which they must approach the State Backward Class Commission whose report would be binding on the government.

He also said then that the BJP-Sena government was not averse to providing the benefits to the backward communities among the Muslims and alleged that the Congress and NCP were raising the cause of Muslims only to seek their votes.