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NCP promises to implement Sachar report in M'rashtra

With around 10-15 % of Muslim votes, NCP is eager to win over them as the civic elections are going to be a close contest, reports Ketaki Ghoge.

india Updated: Dec 23, 2006 21:50 IST

Even as Congress grand rally took off at Shivaji Park, Nationalist Congress Party's (NCP) meet for minority members in the smaller, tightly packed Shanmukhanand Hall at Matunga may have scored a point over its bigger ally.

NCP leaders on Saturday in the presence of their party head honcho and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar kicked off its civic polls campaign with a promise to minorities in the city to implement the Justice Rajinder Sachar report on economic, social and educational status of Muslims.

"I assure you we will be the first state in the country to implement the Sachar report,'' announced Jayant Patil, state finance minister at a special meeting convened by the party's minority cell. Patil is also city's guardian minister and has chalked out party's strategy for the elections.

The Sachar report tabled before the Lok Sabha calls for affirmative action and reforms including reservation for backward sections among the Muslims. NCP is the first political party in the state to make its stance clear on the report which has already become a controversial issue in national politics. Congress itself has been quite cautious on the issue to avoid allegations of minority appeasement.

With around 10-15 per cent of Muslim votes in Mumbai, NCP is eager to win over them as the civic elections are going to be a close contest.

While Pawar maintained silence on the report, being a member of the Union government, it was clear that he had given his lieutenants in the party a green signal to claim the issue.

Patil's statement found echoes in Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil's speech that insisted that Muslims so far had been relegated to stereotypical roles of taxi drivers, garagewallahs.

"They (Muslims) are not seen in government jobs. They don't have access to even loans and education opportunities," said Patil, assuring NCP's intention to try its best and implement the report.

Pawar on his part reiterated the party's commitment to the minorities and cause of secularism. "What is the percentage of Muslims and Dalits on Saturday in the country's progress?" he questioned.

In a bid to appease minorities, NCP leaders also proposed extra floor space index for mosques and separate department for minority affairs to look after minorities' welfare.

First Published: Dec 23, 2006 21:50 IST