New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi hands over a Chaadar to be offered at Dargah Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Ajmer Sharif to the minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (PTI)
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi hands over a Chaadar to be offered at Dargah Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Ajmer Sharif to the minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (PTI)

Our theme is clear, says BJP’s Naqvi on Centre’s handling of minority issues

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who travelled to West Bengal and Assam over the past week, will head to Kerala on Thursday.
By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 31, 2021 06:18 PM IST

Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who has led the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s attacks on the Congress for its alliance in assembly elections, on Wednesday rejected opposition efforts to blame his party for communalising the elections and asserted that the Narendra Modi government’s theme was clear from day one.

“Our theme is very clear. The government’s development plank has nothing to do with vote bank politics practised by the Congress,” the Union minority affairs minister who reached out to minority groups in West Bengal and Assam over the past week in the run-up to the state elections said. Naqvi will travel to Kerala on Thursday on a visit that he hopes would help neutralise the Congress and the Left’s “fake narrative” against his party.

Naqvi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had right from the beginning of his first term in 2014 made it clear that we will not go for vote bank politics unlike other political parties.

“We believe in development without discrimination; empowerment without appeasement. This is the commitment of the Narendra Modi government and PM Modi has delivered on it,” the minister said, referring to statistics on expansion of beneficiaries of the government’s programmes for minorities after PM Modi took charge.

The number of government scholarships for minority students have risen from 3 crore between 2007-8 and 2013-14 to 4.5 crore between 2014-15 and 2020-21. Of these 4.5 crore students, according to official data, 3.3 crore scholarships went to muslim students. As compared to the 20,000-odd youth from the minority communities who had received skills training before 2014, the Modi government has funded training of 6.8 lakh youth from these communities.

“Before 2014, you had only appeasement. Right now, there is no appeasement but these statistics show that the empowerment of the minorities is happening at the ground level... And in this, education is key,” the minister said.

Apart from an effort to build a narrative against the BJP around minorities, Naqvi said it was noteworthy that not a single political party, within or without parliament, “has ever accused us of discrimination (against minorities)”.

When there is development, everyone gains, he said, echoing a point that was also made by Union home minister Amit Shah at an election rally in Kamrup near Guwahati on Wednesday.

“When we will provide drinking water to every household, then water will reach houses of Muslims also. Minorities will also get houses when we will provide it to everyone. Minorities, tribals and Bodos will also get 10,000 that the Assam government will provide to farmers,” Shah said at the rally, according to news agency ANI.

It was the Congress, Amit Shah said, which wants people to fight. “In the name of Bodo-non Bodo, Assamese-Bengali, Hindu-Muslim, upper Assam-lower Assam and tribal-non tribal,” Shah told the gathering.

Naqvi has contrasted the “Congress’ pitch about its secular credentials” with the nature of its allies in Assam, West Bengal and Kerala: All India United Democratic Front in Assam, Indian Secular Front in West Bengal and Indian Union Muslim League in Kerala.

“This new secular syndicate is the height of hypocrisy of the Congress,” the Union minister told news agency PTI earlier this week, describing the ongoing round of state elections as a mandate between “communal vote bank owners” and “inclusive development practitioners”.

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