Government trying to help Muslims move forward on the path of progress: Khurshid

The Bharatiya Janata Party is on a mission to not just form a government but to build the nation and that cannot be done without winning the hearts of the minority community, party president Rajnath Singh said on Saturday.

“We are here to build the nation by winning people’s hearts. Do you think that can be done by instilling fear in your hearts? Nation-building cannot be done just by one community; each and every Indian has to be a part of it,” said Mr. Singh at a seminar on “challenges before minorities” organised by ETV Urdu news channel here.

“As the BJP president, I want to say that if anyone feels that Muslims are facing discrimination in any BJP-ruled State, you should tell me,” he said.

Other participants in the seminar included External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Minority Affairs minister K. Rahman Khan, BJP MP Shahnawaz Hussain, Rajya Sabha member Mohsina Kidwai, National Commission for Minorities chief Wajahat Habibullah, CPI National Executive member Atul Anjan, AICC general secretary Mohan Prakash, Rajasthan Health Minister Durru Miyan and Samajwadi Party general secretary C.P. Rai.

As soon as the BJP chief finished his speech, Rajasthan Minorities Commission chairperson Maahir Azad took the mike and asked him to explain why minority students were being deprived of Central government fellowships in Gujarat, a BJP-ruled State. While Mr. Singh walked out, BJP supporters led by State president of the party’s minority cell Amin Pathan took on Mr. Azad and a scuffle broke out between Congress and BJP workers.

“We have just been made aware of the matter and will look into it,” Mr. Singh told journalists outside the venue.

“Maahir Azad’s questions should be answered by a leader of his level. Rajnath Singhji will answer questions raised by Sonia Gandhiji,” Mr. Hussain said.

Earlier, Mr. Khurshid said the government had been trying to help the Muslim community move forward on the path of progress. However, he said the issue of providing quota to the minorities was a complex one as the government had still not been able to resolve the matter of providing reservation to Dalits in promotions in government jobs. “We are now trying to set up an Equal Opportunities Commission in order to implement affirmative action on the lines of the U.S. But it will be based on inclusion and not on reservation or quota,” said Mr. Khurshid.

Indirectly referring to Mr. Khurshid’s speech, Mr. Hussain said “sweet talk” was not enough to end the woes of minorities. “This type of discussion should be held between the leaders of all the parties. Rajnath Singhji, our leader, is here because such crucial issues need deliberations by leaders. Sweet talk will achieve nothing,” he said, pointing to the absence of AICC president Sonia Gandhi. “The question here is: Have the governments formed in the 65 years of Independence done justice to us [Muslims]? Had they done justice, Sachar committee would not have found us so weak,” said Mr. Hussain.