The decision on the vote in United Nations Human Rights Council on the resolution against Sri Lanka will be taken after consulting DMK and other allies, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said in New Delhi on Sunday.
“The UPA government will take a decision on the vote against Sri Lanka in the UNHRC, later this month, after a meeting with its allies, particularly DMK,” the Union minister said.
But the minister was not too forthcoming on the issue of Italy’s refusal to send back the two marines, charged with the murder of two Indian fishermen, saying the case was pending in Supreme Court.
“I would not like to discuss the options we have on the issue. The matter will be heard in Supreme Court on Monday,” Mr. Khurshid told reporters.
“Being the external affairs minister, (I am) expected to talk less,” he said.
Attempting to clear the air over the issue of passports and the Haj subsidy, Mr. Khurshid said the subsidy will be given to only those who were going on their first Haj.
“We will ensure that everyone going for Haj gets passports and, if needed, more (passport) counters will be opened,” he said.
Earlier, addressing a conference, ‘Unpacking the 12th Plan (minority chapter)’, Mr. Khurshid said that the decline in the growth rate over the past two years, which is now at 5.5-5.75 per cent, was a matter of concern.
“In the coming two years, as stated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, we will try to take the growth rate up to 7 per cent,” he said, adding that touching 8 per cent was crucial for the country.
Mr. Khurshid also called for reservation for Pasmanda (marginalised) Muslims, who make up at least 9 per cent of the total 19 per cent Muslim population in the country.
“Although such a provision is in place in Andhra Pradesh, other states have not been able to introduce the same,” he said.
When asked about Pakistan assembly’s resolution condemning the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, Mr. Khurshid said the “resolution might have been passed due to elections there“.
In an apparent bid to woo Muslims towards Congress, Mr. Khurshid said that it was upto the community to create its own platform or associate with those, where they are heard and taken care of.
“Its a fundamental question, whether you want to create your own platform and run own ‘dukan’ (shop) saying there is no alternative, or to join where you are heard and taken care of,” he said.
Also present on the occasion was Union HRD Minister Pallam Raju who chose to address the issue of education for minorities saying the progress on that front leaves a lot to be desired.
“To reverse the dropout rate in Muslim-majority areas, we are giving special incentives and have also introduced mid-day meals in ‘madarsas’ and ‘maktabs’
“Attempts are on to increase concentration of teachers in Muslim areas and more teachers will be appointed in 90 Muslim-majority districts,” Mr. Raju said.