Facing up to a growing notion that the UPA did not pay enough attention to Muslims, a blunt minority affairs minister K Rahman Khan on Tuesday criticised leaders of the minority community for blaming everything on the government, while making little effort themselves to usher progress.
At a time when the votes of Muslims, India's largest minority, are crucial for the Congress, Khan said steps taken by his ministry were unprecedented in improving the odds for Muslims, but the community's leaders could not escape their share of responsibility.
Khan said Muslims tended to frequently question the implementation of the Sachar Committee's recommendations. "But the same Sachar committee also slammed leaders of our community for not doing enough. What about that?" he asked.
The PM-appointed committee, which probed the disadvantages faced by Muslims, found the community lagging on a range of key socio-economic indices.
Khan launched the Maulana Azad Sehat Scheme, under which each minority student enrolled in institutions aided by the Maulana Azad Education Foundation would get health cards. "The PM's 15-point programme alone is worth Rs 45,000 crore. What have Muslim organisations done to spread awareness about our welfare schemes?" he asked.
Khan said minorities had a share of 15% in programmes worth Rs 2 lakh crore. "But the community's leaders must create the ability to make use of this," he said.
Although the UPA took some historic steps for minority welfare, such as assured spending, at least three studies -- including the National Development Report 2012 - had found the Centre's minority agenda hobbling due to inadequate outreach and discrimination, the very drawbacks it aims to plug.