The UPA government will be giving a final push for minority appeasement before the 2014 general elections with the Cabinet on Thursday approving a proposal to spend additional Rs 100 crore for scholarships to minority children.
This would be complimented with a new campaign to reach out to the minority community and tell them about the difference the UPA government policies have made in their lives.
Minority, especially Muslims, is considered a key vote-bank in the next general elections as they constitute about 13.4% of the population as per 2001 census. Although the latest religion wise population data has not been released by, most political pundits believe that Muslims would opt for tactical voting to keep out BJP’s Prime Minister candidate Narendra Modi.
Zoya Hassan, a professor of Political Science in Jawaharlal Nehru University in an recent article said: “The Muslim vote bank thesis has gained a fresh lease of life due to the Narendra Modi phenomenon. In the 2014 polls, Muslims will put out all stops to block Modi from reaching 7 Race Course Road (the PM’s residence)”.
The government believes that Muslims can play an important role in return of UPA next summer. But feels it has failed to deliver the message that UPA’s record on social inclusion for minorities has been good.
The government has sought services of planning commission member Sayeeda Hamid, a known Modi critic, and advisor to Prime Minister Sam Pitroda for better projection of UPA’s minority agenda.
On Monday, Hameed, Pitroda with minority affairs minister K Rahman Khan will launch a national portal on Maulana Azad, a foundation on whose name got Rs 160 crore on Thursday for giving scholarships to minorities in the remaining four months of the current fiscal.
The government in the budget had allocated Rs 50 crore to the Maulana Azad Education Foundation for providing scholarships. Last Thursday it revised its decision and increased the allocation to Rs 160 crore for 2013-14.
The Cabinet also revised the 12th five year plan corpus for the foundation --- established to promote education among minorities --- from earlier Rs 750 crore to Rs 1,250 crore. The corpus of the foundation was Rs 700 crore in the 11th five year plan. The foundation was established in 1989 as a voluntary, non-political, non-profit making society.