Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday said the Capital’s Jamia Millia Islamia deserved to be a university with a minority character and his colleague Kapil Sibal, the human resource minister, did not have a stand to the contrary, as many Muslims think.
“Let me clear this misgiving. I am convinced Sibal has no such position on Jamia. In fact, he is of the view that those fighting for Jamia’s minority status should immediately approach high court and diligently explore all options,” said Khurshid at a meeting of a dozen MPs and Muslim leaders from Delhi.
Several Muslim leaders said they would turn voters from Chandi Chowk, Sibal’s constituency, against Sibal if he stood in the way of Jamia's minority status.
Though a central university with an Islamic ethos, Jamia Millia Islamia, set up in 1920, is struggling to clear the ambiguity surrounding its status.
Muslim MPs, who met at the India Islamic Centre, assured the Jamia Minority Status Coordination Committee (JMSCC) that they would shun political differences to put pressure on the government to help Jamia get a minority institution certificate.
Khurshid said contrary to perception, he had no qualms about taking up the issue of Jamia’s minority status.
“My being a minister does not act as a restraint on me. I wouldn’t have been here if that was the case,” he said.
Khurshid’s grandfather Dr. Zakir Hussain, India’s third President, was one of the founder fathers of the university.
In a letter last month to Jamia Vice-Chancellor Najeeb Jung, the University Grants Commission asked the university to immediately reserve 27 per cent seats for students from Other Backward Classes or else central grant to it could be discontinued.
The Jamia coordination committee wants this to be put on hold, as implementing the OBC quota would weaken its bid for a minority tag.
“Former HRD minister Arjun Singh had exempted us from implementing the OBC quota. We want Sibal to do the same,” said Tabrez Alam, Jamia Teachers’ Association secretary.