Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said the Telangana government’s new Backward Class, Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribe Reservation Bill, 2017, was “unconstitutional” and added that courts have shot down such moves earlier. “Reservation on the basis of religion is not in the interest of the country. It is unconstitutional,” he said, according to PTI.

The Bill, which was passed by the state Assembly in a special session on Sunday, proposes to grant 12% reservation in government jobs and educational institutes to impoverished Muslims. Naidu said that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s stand on the matter has been clear. “The party does not believe in giving religion-based reservation and is against it,” he said. He said India was divided along religious lines. “We can’t afford it as it will create more problems,” he said, adding that it will invite problems that Pakistan is currently facing, reported Hindustan Times.

Howeve, the urban development minister clarified that the current dispensation at the Centre works for the betterment of the backward communities and is “not averse to reservation”. He said, “We are not averse to reservation to the economically and educationally backward communities, be it Hindus, Jains, Muslims or Christians, for their upliftment.”

Naidu more or less reiterated what the Telangana unit of the BJP had said. Earlier on Monday, the party’s state unit had dismissed the Bill as “trash” and said that it would never be approved by the Centre. BJP, which is in opposition in the state , has stridently opposed the Bill, saying that it goes against the spirit of the Constitution and is “communal”.

The Telangana Rashtriya Samiti, led by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, had promised to provide 12% reservation to backward sections among Muslims in the party’s election manifesto. The Bill will need the Centre’s approval to be implemented as the percentage of quotas has now gone beyond the 50% cap.