Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan on Saturday seemed to draw criticism from the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) for appearing to suggest that the government’s restructuring of the merit-cum-means minority scholarship ratio as per the 2011 Census had not disadvantaged Muslim students.
Mr. Satheesan said the amended award had not caused "any loss" to the Muslim community. Instead, the government had brought educationally disadvantaged Latin Catholic and converted Christian communities under the endowment’s ambit.
However, he seemed to flip-flop on the issue hours after IUML leader E.T. Muhammad Basheer, MP, said Mr. Satheesan was patently wrong.
Mr. Satheesan stated later that the current scholarship allocation had caused the Muslim community dearly. The Sachar Committee, which studied Muslim backwardness, had proposed a scholarship scheme exclusively for Muslim students.
The United Democratic Front (UDF) had urged the government to institute similar scholarship programmes for other backward minorities. Mr. Satheesan said benefiting one minority community should not be at the cost of any other.
Loss for Muslims: IUML
Mr. Basheer said Muslims had traditionally received 100% of the scholarship amount reserved for minority community students. The V.S. Achuthanandan government in 2011 interfered with the award. It counted Latin Catholics and converted Christians as educationally backward minority communities and brought them under the ambit of exclusively Muslim student scholarship.
Subsequently, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government whittled down the scholarship for Muslim students from 100% to 80%. He said that it awarded the 20% hewn out of Muslim allocation to the Latin Catholics and other minorities.
(The High Court had found the 80:20 allocation legally unsustainable and heavily loaded in favour of the Muslim community. It ordered the government to rectify the "anomaly" as per the 2011 census data.)
As per the revised ratio, the minority scholarship quota for Christians is 18.38%, Muslim 26.56%, Buddhists 0.01%, Jain 0.01%, and Sikh 0.01%.
CPI(M) acting State secretary A. Vijayaraghavan accused the IUML leadership of attempting to cause communal disharmony by raking up a non-issue. The current allocation would not infringe on the education reservation benefits enjoyed by Muslims or other communities.
Kasim Irikkur of the Indian National League (INL) said the party would not allow the IUML to assail the LDF on the issue. He said the LDF had constituted the ‘Koshy Commission’ to study the backwardness of other minority communities. Ideally, the government should institute separate scholarship schemes for other minority community students without slashing the award for the Muslim community.