The purpose of providing reservations in education and government jobs to Muslims in Andhra Pradesh is social justice and not appeasement, said Telugu Desam Party leader Nara Lokesh on Friday, NDTV reported.

During an interview with the news channel, the Telugu Desam Party leader said that reservations for the community in the state had been in place for the last two decades. “We stand by it,” said Lokesh, who is the son of Chief Minister-designate N Chandrababu Naidu.

The Telugu Desam Party along with its allies, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Jana Sena Party, won the Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Tuesday. Naidu is set to be sworn in as the chief minister on June 12, NDTV reported.

The party is also a key part of the National Democratic Alliance which is set to form its government at the Centre. In the just-concluded general elections, the Telugu Desam Party emerged as the single-largest party in Andhra Pradesh, winning 16 out of the state’s 25 Lok Sabha seats.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders repeatedly claimed that the Congress had diverted quotas meant for backward classes toward Muslim beneficiaries. They cited the 4% reservations for Muslims under the Other Backward Classes category in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as an example.

Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah had even promised during election rallies to do away with “religion-based reservations” if they returned to power at the Centre.

Muslims have had access to 4% reservations in education and government jobs under the Other Backward Classes category in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh since 2007.

A total of 14 states and Union territories include Muslims in their list of Other Backward Classes, based on socio-economic indicators.

On Friday, Lokesh said that the Telugu Desam Party would continue providing reservations to the community in the state.

“It is a fact that the minorities continue to suffer and that they have the lowest per capita income,” the Telugu Desam Party leader said. “As a government, it is my responsibility to bring them out of poverty. So whatever decisions I take are not for appeasement, but to bring them out of poverty.”

He added that no one could be left behind if the goal is to make the nation a developed one. “We should do it together and there is a great opportunity to do it,” he said. “It has been the trademark of the TDP [Telugu Desam Party] to take everyone together.”

Lokesh said that the party would focus on creating jobs and uplifting the marginalised in the state.

The results for the Lok Sabha elections showed that the BJP’s final seat tally stood at 240, a significant fall from 2019 when it had clinched 303 seats. The overall tally of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance reached 292 seats. In the 2019 general elections, the alliance won in 353 constituencies.

Any party or alliance requires 272 seats in the 543-member Lower House to form a government at the Centre.

The Congress won 99 seats, significantly improving on its 2019 tally when it had managed to get 52 seats. The Opposition INDIA bloc collectively bagged 232 seats.

With the BJP failing to secure a majority on its own, it required the support of its allies such as the Telugu Desam Party and the Janata Dal (United) to form the government.

On Friday, Janata Dal (United) National Spokesperson KC Tyagi also said that the party would not allow the incoming BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre to propagate campaigns against Muslims and other minority communities.

“While we are there [in power with the BJP], no anti-Muslim, anti-minority campaign will be run,” Tyagi said, boasting of his party’s credibility among Muslims.