Monday, April 07, 2014

BJP's double-speak on welfare schemes for Muslims: Shouldn't party come clear on its policies regarding minorities or does it intend to extend 'Gujarat model' nationally?

This aricle was first published in an Urdu daily*and it raises important questions about BJP's policies and its intent regarding the welfare of Muslims.

The BJP being a national party should reflect on these issues and clarify its stand. On one hand, BJP leaders including PM candidate Narendra Modi quote** Sachar panel's findings in speeches to show the plight of Muslims.

But on the other hand, the same party in Gujarat is not ready to implement a central scheme that can benefit poor Muslims students and is adamant over it, even though BJP governments in other states have no objection to the scheme's implementation].

Now read this guest article:

By Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood

BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had recently said that if his party forms government at the centre, then it would implement the Sachar committee recommendations. Naqvi said it to journalists on March 20, in Rampur.

But Gujarat government has approached the Supreme court terming the Sachar panel as illegal and unconstitutional. The scholarship scheme for students belonging to minority communities was not implemented in Gujarat.

I took up this issue in my power point presentation before Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad on June 29, 2013. After I gave my presentation, Modi came to me and said that Gujarat government intends to tell the Apex Court that 75% of the amount is borne by Centre and 25% by State under the scheme, but if Centre gives cent percent [100%] money for the scholarships, then it will be extended to the state.

When I said that BJP governments in Jharkhand, Uttarkahand and Chhattisgarh had implemented the same scheme as per 75%-25% formula, he thought for a while and said that it is about these (other, not Gujarat) state governments. Doesn't it clearly say that Gujarat government would not let Muslim students in the state, avail the facility of the scholarship scheme.

Later, in November 2013, Gujarat government, gave an affidavit in the SC, terming the panel's existence as illegal. It is apparent that BJP governments in many other states had no objection to the scheme and even BJP isn't wary of it, as Naqvi stated in Rampur, but Gujarat government has reservations about the implementation of the scheme.
Shouldn't Narendra Modi, who is now the Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP, clarify the overall BJP stand on it.

If he doesn't do it, then the statement of party vice-president should be changed. If there is no clarification on this front, it can have an affect on Muslims and other religious minorities, who will be free to form their own opinion. Also, their voting pattern can be affected by it.

On ABP news' programme, Amit Shah said that BJP hasn't changed its policies and those coming to join us, support our policies.

Now, shouldn't Jagdambika Pal, Ram Vilas Paswan, Ram Kripal Yadav and such leaders clarify their position too on the Gujarat government's affidavit in the Supreme Court.

In the affidavit, Gujarat government maintains that if any scheme is made just for Muslims, then it is unconstitutional. But then, there is no mention about the Presidential order of 1950, which selectively targets Muslims and Christians, as it stops scheduled castes among them can't get benefit of reservation, which is also a selective order for certain groups and is clearly discriminatory on religious (communal) lines.

The communities excluded due to this order have suffered enormously in the last six decades. Gujarat government's stand is incorrect as Sachar committee made a comparison of different communities on a number of indicators before coming to the conclusion about backwardness of Muslims.

Not just the Sachar panel, but also the Justice Ranganathan Mishra commission report establishes that Muslims are the most socio-econominically backward group in the country and they don't get adequate representation in jobs and on other fronts.

Under article 16(4) of the constitution, it is states  that if a 'class' of citizens are not well represented, then reservation ought to be provided to them. Ranganath Mishra commission and Sachar committee have corroborated the fact taht Muslims don't get due representation. Hence, this class should be given reservation.

The Scheduled Castes (SCs) have also got the reservation under this clause. If Muslims can't get reservation because of their religion, then the Presidential order of 1950 should is also wrong, as it benefits adherents of particular religions. 

Gujarat government mentioned that the Sachar report put forth statistics about Muslims alone. Though the reality is different. In the report, through hundreds of charts and graphs, the Muslim community has been compared to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, SCs and STs, on educational, socio-economical and other indicators.

In National Sample Survey report, the rate of poverty in Gujarat is 18% for OBCs, 17% for SCs, 3% for remaining  Hindus,  and 0% for non-Muslim minorities but it is 24% for Muslims. NSS' 66th report says that average urban monthly per capita income for is 1,797 for Hindus, 2,053 for Christians, 2,053 for Sikhs and a mere 1,272 for Muslims.

Either it is urban area or the rurla region, the income of Muslims is less than SCs (Dalits) too. Dr Tanvir Fazal's report 'Millennium Development Goals and Indian Muslims' tells that rate of poverty decline is least among Muslims, at just 3.1%.

If there is a comparison among states, then just three other states are behind Gujarat, as far as presence of Muslim childrne in schools, is concerned. Yet, the 'model' Gujarat government is taking all possible steps to deprive the poor Muslim kids from getting benefited by a welfare scheme! 

Isn't it a tragedy? We can only wonder about the India of our dreams, if a similar model is replicated at the Centre.

[*The article was published in the multi-edition Roznama Sahara, which is published from nine cities across the country]
[**Link to reports about Narendra Modi's speech in Bihar in which he used Justice Rajinder Sachar panel's findings to emphaise on plight of Muslims under Congress rule LINK 1 and LINK 2