Over two dozen Muslim Congress MPs have told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the government's minority welfare plans were floundering, prompting the PM to say that he would personally assess the situation with top bureaucrats "soon".
The MPs said despite funds and schemes that look good on paper, the ground reality hasn't changed much beyond what the high-level Sachar panel on disadvantages faced by Muslims had reported. The criticism, by Congress' own MPs, could be politically embarrassing for the party ahead of the UP polls.
The latest criticism follows a recent four-year study by the Delhi-based Centre for Equity Studies, which said the government's minority welfare agenda was being hobbled by unspent funds and inadequate outreach. For instance, the study found only 22% of funds for infrastructure upgrade had been utilised by the middle of the third quarter, 2010-11. The MPs cited the report in their briefing.
The MPs closed ranks to take on the Planning Commission's "lip service" approach to minority welfare in the forthcoming 12th plan period (2012-17). They include several Congress MPs, including Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K Rahman Khan and Hameedullah Sayeed, apart from others such as CPM's Moinul Hasan and Hyderabad MP Assaduddin Owaisi.
"The PM has said he would personally call a meeting of secretaries to discuss this," Khan told HT.
The MPs said the 12th plan did not, for example, heed to the call that rather than pick the minority-inhabited districts for development, minority-concentrated "blocks" (smallest unit of administration) should be picked to better target minorities.
Scholarships, they said, need to be made universal rather than targeted and any district with 15% minority population should be eligible for funds.