Even as the pro-Muslim populist measures announced by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday came in for criticism, his father and Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh has reiterated the party's resolve to work for the uplift and betterment of the community. On Friday, he said Muslims would be given reservation and other benefits soon.
Thursday's Cabinet decision to give a grant of Rs. 30,000 to high school pass Muslim girls for pursuing their education and marriage, as well as the decision to construct boundary walls along Muslim ‘qabristans' (graveyards) has been criticised by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). Its State president Harish Dwivedi said in a release that the Chief Minister should not divide the youth along religious and class lines.
BJYM leader's plea
Mr. Dwivedi demanded that steps be taken to extend the benefit to girls of all the communities. Cremation grounds should also be given protection to ward off encroachment as was proposed for the ‘qabristans.'
Undeterred by criticisms, Mr. Mulayam Singh not only expressed his gratitude to the minority community for their overwhelming support in the Assembly elections, but also reiterated his party's resolve to give them “samman” (respect). He was addressing a gathering of supporters at the party headquarters here on Friday.
Mr. Singh said Muslims were poor and it was pointed out by the Sachar Committee that their condition was worse than Dalits. Stating that socio-economic and educational backwardness was the bane of Muslim families, he assured them that the party would work for their betterment. Reservation and other benefits would be given to them said.
Mr. Singh noted that for the first time Muslims had extended their whole-hearted support to the SP. All the promises made in the election manifesto like saving the ‘qabristans' and ‘dargahs' from illegal acquisition would be fulfilled.
The Muslim tilt of the SP was reflected in the constitution of the Council of Ministers. There are in all 10 Muslim Ministers. While the ‘Muslim face' of the party, Mohammad Azam Khan, Ahmed Hasan and Waqar Ahmed Shah have been made Cabinet ministers, there are seven Muslims among the 28 Ministers of State.
Of the 224 SP MLAs, 43 are Muslims.