The reports of Sachar and Ranganath Misra committees on minority welfare on Thursday generated heat in the Lok Sabha, with RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his SP counterpart Mulayam Singh Yadav charging the government with being anti-Muslim and leading walkout by their party members.
BJP members too utilised the opportunity to express anguish over non-utilisation of funds for development of social infrastructure, including water and power, in Muslim- dominated areas, especially slums.
The issue cropped up during Question Hour when Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid was replying to questions on the implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations.
"I am thankful for your advice but I don't know what question you asked," Khurshid remarked after Prasad wanted to know whether the government was prepared to amend the Constitution to provide reservation to Muslims in government jobs as it was doing for women.
Prasad and Yadav insisted on a proper reply and later led their members in staging walkout from the House.
Trying to ease the situation, Speaker Meira Kumar said, "If you give a notice, we can have a separate discussion on the matter."
Earlier when a BJP member asked a supplementary alleging non-utilisation of funds for development of social infrastructure in Muslim-dominated localities, Khurshid suggested that the MPLAD scheme, under which Rs two crore was allocated to each MP for carrying out development activities in their respective constituencies, could be utilised for the purpose.
This led to a furore in the House, with BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain accusing the government of shirking its responsibility.
Members from SP, RJD, BJD and several other opposition parties, who also asked the government to withdraw the MPLAD scheme, supported him.
Even Prasad told the Minister "you can keep your suggestion to yourself and withdraw the MPLAD scheme".
Earlier, the RJD chief referred to the recommendations of the Ranganath Misra Committee and said there was "inadequate" representation of Muslims in government jobs.
He alleged that the government was trying to "create a rift" among the Muslims and backward classes.
Responding to SP member Reoti Raman Singh's question, the Minister said while a national data bank has been created under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, a monitoring mechanism was functioning under the Planning Commission.
He said Rs 25,000 crore are to be spent on developing social infrastructure in 90 districts across the country identified as Muslim-dominated. Work has already been started in 80 districts.
Khurshid also referred to several schemes and projects in this regard.