As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government completes 100 days in its second tenure at the Centre, minority affairs minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, spoke to on a wide range of issues, including the government’s performance, its outreach to minority communities as well as controversies it has courted following its decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status. Edited excerpts:
Q: How do you analyse the first 100 days of the Narendra Modi government?
A: These have been days of “perform, reform and transform”. Prime Minister Modi has established a culture of clean and transparent politics by demolishing “arrogance of power”. There is a long list of tough and bold historic decisions taken in the interest of the country in these 100 days, and every decision has been dedicated to the development of the country and the welfare of the people. “Inclusive growth” is “rashtra niti” [national policy] and “inclusive good governance” is “rashtra dharma” [duty towards the nation] of the Modi government.
Q: What, in your opinion, are major achievements of the government in the first 100 days?
A: After a long time, Parliament worked for more than its scheduled time and witnessed sittings till late hours to provide opportunities to take important decisions in the interest of all sections of the society — be it the Triple Talaq Bill or the decision to scrap Article 370 [that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir], a decision which had been considered as impossible. All these decisions were testament to effectiveness and strong will of the Modi government which has proved to be a government of “Iqbal, Insaaf, and Imaan” [authority, justice and integrity].
Q: Do you think the J&K issue could have been handled better?
A: It was a well thought-out decision of the Narendra Modi government [to nullify Article 370]. Those who are criticising it are doing so for the sake of political benefits. If it was such a wrong decision and targeted against any particular community, why would have Muslim countries stood by us? No Islamic country spoke against our decision on Kashmir. [PM] Modi has friendly and passionate relationship with Islamic countries.
Countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have conferred their top awards on Modi after the Kashmir decision. If they were to be swayed by Pakistan’s hue and cry, and criticism by vested interests in India, they would not have conferred such honours on the Indian Prime Minister. Even Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan have given similar awards to the Indian PM. What does it indicate? It shows that the relationship between India and other Islamic countries have strengthened like never before. This makes every Indian feel proud.
Q: How does the government plan to deal with the situation in Kashmir?
A: The situation in Kashmir is peaceful. People of Ladkah region are hopeful that the government’s decision to make it a Union Territory will open the gate for new opportunities in the region. After scrapping of Article 370, a team of officials from my ministry visited Kashmir on August 27 and 28 and met authorities concerned, and stakeholders to chalk out a comprehensive plan for various centrally sponsored development projects in the region.
Issues such as the formation of Haj Committees and Waqf Boards in the two UTs were also discussed. Our government is preparing a plan to develop “Hunar Hubs” [skill development centres], schools-colleges, ITIs [Industrial Training Institutes], polytechnics etc under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram [ a minority welfare scheme] in Jammu-Kashmir and Laddakh regions.
Q: After being re-elected, PM Modi suggested that his government will try to win over ‘sabka vishwas’ (everyone’s confidence). Does this indicate a trust deficit between the BJP and India’s minority communities?
A: There were various types of propaganda about the minorities before the Modi government came to power. The ”development with dignity” and “empowerment without appeasement” approach of the Modi government has significantly benefited the minorities. Under the Mudra scheme, more than 35% of loans have been given to the poor and needy belonging to minority communities; about 29% beneficiaries of the Ujjwala scheme [free cooking gas connections] are minorities; about 42% of minority dominated villages have benefited from rural electrification programme. These areas were deprived of electricity or had been kept in dark deliberately. The minorities, too, realised that political parties used them as vote banks without doing much to improve their social and economic conditions.
Q: What all have you done to benefit the minorities?
A: As many as 26 degree colleges, 1,152 school buildings, 40,201 additional classrooms, 506 hostels, 71 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), 50 polytechnics, 39,586 anganwadi centres [rural child care centres], 411 sadbhavna mandaps [community centres], 92 residential schools, 530 markets etc have been constructed by the Modi government in the minority concentrated areas in the last five years. A record number of 2 lakh Indian Muslims, including 48% women, performed Haj in these 100 days, that, too, without any subsidy.
A record number of 2,340 Muslim women also performed Haj this year without mehram (male companion). Under the programme to connect madrasas with mainstream education system, about 40 teachers from madrasas from various states have been trained by the ministry of minority affairs. About 100 school dropouts have been provided bridge course by the ministry.
Q: Has your government done anything to address the issues related to Waqf properties?
A: We have done 100 per cent digitisation of Waqf properties across the country. There are about 6 lakh registered Waqf properties across the country. A programme has been launched to geotag [the process of adding geographical metadata to photographs and videos] Waqf properties across the country to ensure these properties can be utilised for the welfare of society. Geotagging of about 19,000 Waqf properties has been completed. The work has been initiated with the help of IIT Roorkee and Aligarh Muslim University.
Sep 11, 2019 05:32 IST