The Uttar Pradesh (UP) government, which is attempting to regain the confidence of the minorities all over again after the Muzaffarnagar riots, is grappling with a ‘minority’ issue of a different kind.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) government’s flagship scheme – Hamari Beti Uska Kal – under which all Class 10 pass girls from minority communities get a onetime grant of Rs. 30,000, either for higher education or marriage, has evoked an overwhelming response from the community.
The government had set a target of benefiting 99,500 girls in 2013-14 fiscal and earmarked a fund of ` 298.50 crore for the purpose.
But, already the minority welfare department has received 1,95,970 applications from girls seeking to avail the dole.
Though the applications are yet to be screened, sources in the minority welfare department say that most of the applicants are expected to meet the criteria.
“And providing the one-time grant to all eligible girls would mean requiring nearly double the funds than that allocated under the scheme.
So, either the government would have to double the fund or consider slashing the one-time grant substantially to reach all the intended beneficiaries,” a source said.
The source said it was unlikely that the government would want to antagonize the minority girls.
“So, to avoid egg on its face, the Samajwadi Party may actually pump in more funds into the scheme,” said the source.
In 2012, when the scheme was first launched, the government had planned to provide the onetime grant only to Muslim girls.
However, after widespread criticism, the state government included other minorities like Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians and Jains too.
Before the 2012 assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party had promised in its manifesto that it would provide a one-time grant to the minority community girls.