Uttarakhand, a state that has less than 16% minority population, will now have a separate ministry for minorities. Vijay Bahuguna cabinet approved a ministry for minorities on Thursday. Political pundits say the decision will influence minority voters particularly in Haridwar, Dehradun and Udham Singh Nagar district.
In the assembly of 70 legislators, BSP and Congress have one each Muslim legislator and incidentally both have been elected from Haridwar district.
Interestingly, minister for parliamentary affairs, Harish Rawat represents Haridwar parliamentary constituency. It is an open secret that Rawat is the bete noire of chief minister Vijay Bahuguna.
“Although ministry for minority was our poll promise but in the changed political situation this (minority ministry) will help in checkmating Rawat who had pressurised Bahuguna in last one month” admitted a senior Congress leader close to Bahuguna.
Out of 70 assembly segments, minority voters are decisive in at least 15 seats, and most of such seats fall in the Haridwar parliamentary constituency. By this fresh move, Bahuguna apparently wants to win hearts of minorities.
In fact, soon after the cabinet gave a nod to the minority ministry, CM headed for Haridwar. This is Bahuguna’s second tour to Rawat’s constituency this week.
“It's not all about appeasement of Muslim voters. Congress has always stood for the welfare of minorities and therefore we wanted a separate ministry” asserted Surender Kumar, Congress spokesperson.
According to additional chief secretary Alok Jain, presently social welfare ministry looks after minority affairs and now with the separate ministry coming up, government will appoint staff and officials accordingly.