Congress has just released its sub-manifesto related to minorities. The sub-manifesto has accepted almost all the major demands of Muslims. These include:
1. Extension of Scheduled Caste status to all Dalit Minorities.
2. Examine feasibility of mandating the next Delimitation Commission to ensure that Minorities aren’t disenfranchised through reservation of constituencies where minority population equals or exceeds SC/ST population.
3. Ensure adequate representation of Minorities in all public positions.
4. Ensure that funds earmarked for Minorities are allocated to various minority groups in a population-proportionate manner.
5. Earmark reservation of 4.5 percent for backward Muslims in the existing OBC reservations.
6. Ensure adequate representation of minorities in student and faculty in educational institutions.
7. Establish a Minority Commission in every state to safeguard the interests of minorities.
8. Undertake special awareness drives to educate Minorities about government schemes for
9. Ensure improved accountability mechanisms for proper implementation of government schemes for the welfare of minorities.
10. Press for implementation of former Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi’s letter to state chief ministers to ensure that Waqf properties illegally occupied by state and Central governments are vacated and restored to the State Waqf Boards.
11. Ensure utilization of funds allocated for the publicity of Madrasa Scheme (SPQEM) in Urdu and other languages.
12. Ensure implementation of Central Urdu Teachers Scheme across states.
13. Empower Equal Opportunity Commission to check discrimination against Minorities in employment and education opportunities.
14. Institute a Committee to enquire into the socio-economic status of all Minority groups, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Muslims to ensure equitable access to government benefits for the welfare of Minorities.
Certain points however remain unclear. Will “adequate representation of Minorities in all public positions” include adequate (according to population) representation of Muslims in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad, the demand that this writer had voiced in his “Agenda 2014: Muslim Perspective”? I had demanded that every secular party should commit to ensure that the combined total of Muslim members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in their respective quotas must be 15 pc. My demand of introducing “Right to Health” has already been included in Congress main manifesto and is one of the major points in the election speeches of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. But again, they are merely talking of right to healthcare while my position was that not only healthcare should be ensured but the environment must also be made health-protective with legal actions against practices and products that severely threaten health. The submanifesto talks of ensuring that Muslims get benefits of all minority schemes but does not speak of allocation of 15 pc of the total NGO funds to Muslim NGOs.
I cant understand why Congress has taken such a long time in declaring the submanifesto. When polling for more than half of the seats has already been conducted, how much it can benefit Congress in thwarting the march of BJP is unclear. Moreover, Congress needs to assert that even if it does not come to power, it will pressurize the government to work for the declared objectives. This is particularly important because the chances of Congress coming to power are not bright. Its role as Opposition should be to keep pressing for the demands which its manifesto talked about. If it acts as a determined Opposition, only then it can hope to come to power again.
* Dr Javed Jamil is a thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”. Other works include “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Essence of the Divine Verses”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe”. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 91-8130340339. https://twitter.com/javedjam