A day after the UP government denied permission to the VHP’s 84 Kosi yatra, it announced that it would earmark 20% of the budget of 85 development schemes for the welfare of the minority community, particularly Muslims. The decision was approved in a cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The Minority Affairs Minister Azam Khan, who had earlier criticized the CM for meeting VHP leaders, was not present in the meeting.
“The UP government took this decision as per Sachar Committee recommendations and we have implemented only that part which can be executed by the state government. The Samajwadi Party made this promise in its manifesto for the 2012 assembly elections,” said the CM after the cabinet meeting. “To bring Muslims into mainstream society and ensure that they get their due share in the development-cake, the government has decided to earmark 20% of the funds of 85 development schemes under 30 departments,” The departments are agriculture, irrigation, health, education (primary, secondary, higher and technical), PWD, tourism and urban development.
“The Sachar Committee appointed by the Center had mentioned in its report that in urban areas, Muslims were living in abysmal poverty and their economic status was even worse than Dalits’. The committee also found that the benefits of different government schemes were not reaching Muslims and recommended that the government should formulate schemes which benefit Muslims and also bring them at par with other communities,” added the CM. As per the 2011 census, Muslims constitute 19.33% of the total population of UP.
The CM also mentioned that a state-level committee headed by the state’s Chief Secretary had been set up to ensure the effective monitoring of schemes run for the welfare of Muslims. At the district level, the committee would be headed by the District Magistrate. In both the committees, there would be two members from the minority community. For ensuring transparency, two websites – one in Hindi and other in Urdu – would also be set up.
The BJP criticised the state government for its decision. “Earmarking of 20% of funds of 85 development schemes for Muslims alone shows the perverted mindset of the Chief Minister and the Samajwadi Party,” said LK Bajpai, the State President of the BJP. “Religion-based reservation is unconstitutional and the Supreme Court has rejected the recommendation of the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission which provides for reservation on the basis of religion.