The BJP's criticism of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's emphasis on the need to pay special attention to the development of the minorities, particularly Muslims, in his address to the National Development Council is an expression of its political agenda. Earlier, the Gopal Singh Commission and now the Sachar Committee reports have proved that Muslims have been discriminated against. Can we expect a nation in which one component is constantly bypassed from the process of development to progress?

Contrary to the BJP's claims, Dr. Singh's emphasis on priorities is neither dangerous nor partisan. It is just what is needed to lift the minorities from the morass into which those who control the resources have pushed them.

Ram Puniyani,
Mumbai

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The Prime Minister's statement that the minorities, particularly Muslims, should have the first claim on resources is welcome. Muslims too should shed their conservatism and work hard to get the benefits of development.

K.M. Lakshmana Rao,
Warrenville, Chicago

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By saying what he did, Dr. Singh played directly to the gallery of Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh. The minorities, including Muslims, have enjoyed equal status with the majority since independence. It is because of their refusal to adapt to the modern times that they lag behind in development. Statements such as the one made by Dr. Singh will only further divide the nation.

C. Veerender,
Hyderabad

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In a democracy, everybody has equal claims on the nation's resources. Religion does not make one rich or poor, powerful or oppressed.

Nisha Gopalan,
Chennai

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It was shocking to hear the Prime Minister of a democratic country speak openly in favour of a particular section.

Such utterances will lead to greater divisions among the people. Muslims should understand that their progress should be simultaneous with the other sections and not isolated.

K. Hari Krishnan,
Tuticorin

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Unfortunately, the minorities are used as pawns in the vote bank policy of politicians who resort to it to hide their shortcomings. If the UPA Government is concerned about the welfare of its people, why has it not done anything for the families of farmers who have committed suicide and who for generations supported the millions of Indian families by providing them food grains? Do they not have the first claim on our resources?

S. Vasupratha,
Bangalore

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Dr. Singh has overreacted to the Sachar Committee report. It is the poorest of the poor who should have the first claim on the nation's resources. That is what Mahatma Gandhi meant when he said feed the Daridra Narayana.

The UPA Government's policies, on reservation or appeasement of the minorities, deprive a large chunk of the very poor of the benefits of progress.

P.N. Venkatakrishnan,
Pune