Several Muslim members of Parliament on Monday complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the 12th Five-Year Plan had nothing concrete in it to uplift the Muslim community. They claimed that the plan made a mockery of the prime minister's vows of "inclusive" development.
The MPs, 31 of them, bluntly told the prime minister that Muslims would continue to remain backward unless "programmes, schemes and policies of every ministry fixes certain share of finances and targets Muslims in proportion to their population". They also said that putting all responsibility on the ministry of minority affairs would serve no purpose.
Nationalist Congress Party General Secretary Tariq Anwar, a Rajya Sabha member, who organised the Muslim MPs to raise their voice, later claimed that the PM assured to direct the Planning Commission to examine their memorandum and examine how the 12th Plan should be tweaked.
The Muslim MPs decided to close ranks at a time when the government is contemplating to grant 6 per cent share to Muslims in the 27 per cent reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). A top Muslim lawyer from Lucknow, involved in the Babri Mosque case, said, "Law and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is hoodwinking the community as many Muslim castes are already included in the OBC list to enjoy fruit of reservation."
Referring to various government documents, the MPs sought the PM's personal intervention for evolving a comprehensive approach to address development concerns of Muslims. The MPs said that the community "being part of society, their backwardness can only be addressed with inclusive planning approach from all the line departments rather than one ministry".
"We could not figure out any specific plan intervention to address Muslims that can meet the PM's flagship 15-point programme unless there is clear allocation from different departments for the Muslims as already recommended by Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) minority group," the two-page memorandum said.
It also took strong exception to exclusion of Muslims by the Planning Commission in the BPL (below poverty line) methodology adopted by it to identify the urban poor despite their socio-economic conditions almost on par with the Scheduled Castes (SCs).
The MPs shared their fear with the PM that most of the Muslims would be deleted from the BPL barrier unless the newly constituted group could identify the urban poor.
"Even in the post-Sachar period, HRD 2011 report gives ample data proof of Muslims faring on par with SCs in all human development indicators. The socio-religious gaps in urban poverty indicators are a serious concern to the community as most of the community lives in urban slums," the memorandum added.