Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid on Thursday favored caste based census, saying the exercise would also help identify and benefit backward Muslims, for whom the government is mulling reservation on the lines of Kerala/Karnataka model.
"Two suggestions had emerged from the Rangnath Mishra committee recommendations favoring reservation for backward Muslims. The first was providing them 15 per cent reservation and the second was following the alternative route. Consensus appears to be for the alternative route and that is why we are studying the Karnataka/Kerala model, which seems to be more acceptable. The caste census would also help identify backward among Muslims," the minister said.
Interacting with select newspersons in Lucknow on Thursday, he said, "Chief Minister Mayawati during her earlier stint in UP too had brought a similar proposal for backward Muslims for the state. But it was later withdrawn."
Denying that the Union Ministers were divided on caste census, he said, the Group of Ministers (GoM) have already been entrusted the task of studying the proposal in detail and get back to the cabinet after which a final decision would be made. "The Prime Minister has spoken on the subject and there is no need for further clarifications," he said.
Khurshid He said that the government had put the contentious Central Madarsa Board proposal on hold as the bigger madarsas were opposed to it. The Union HRD ministry had earlier decided to form the Board, to modernise the teachings at all madarsas in a uniform manner and introduce new non-religious subjects for the overall development of this education system meant for the Muslims. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) at its annual general conference in Lucknow too had passed a resolution opposing the move.
Khurshid said, "The government however would provide all help to individual madarsas who approach it."
Apparently with an eye on 2012 assembly elections in UP, the ministry of minority affairs is set to include 21 more districts in the state under its Minority Concentrated Districts (MCD) scheme.
Of the 90 districts identified across the country under the scheme, UP already has maximum districts (21), followed by Assam (13), Bihar (8). Khurshid, said, "Nearly Rs 2500 crore has already been earmarked for the scheme. Sanction for an additional Rs 1000 crore too have been received. UP would stand to benefit in a big way through this scheme under this area-wise development plans for these districts would be initiated. Districts identified under the scheme are those, which have a sizeable minority population and the standard of living is well below the national average.