NEW DELHI: With the BJP-led Government facing criticism over the pro-Hindutva pitch raked up by some right-wing activists leading to suspicion among the minority community, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is doing the balancing act. Naqvi is reaching out to the minorities across the country to hard-sell a benevolent image of the government.
As part of the “confidence-building measure”, after travelling to Kerala to engage with minorities there, Naqvi will visit Hyderabad on Friday to talk to minority community leaders. “We are focusing on socio, economic and educational aspect to empower the community,” Naqvi said.
The Minorities Affairs Ministry is also planning to conduct safai abhiyan (cleanliness drive) in Muslim-dominated areas by promising to build toilets. The government is trying to reach out by suggesting that they would fund more schools for the minorities to raise their socio-economic and educational levels. In Hyderabad, Naqvi is expected to hold meeting with the Chief Minster, ministers and minority community leaders. The Minister of State will then travel to West Bengal, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh to build bridges with the minorities, who were apparently apprehensive after aggressive reconversion campaigns. Community leaders, while welcoming Naqvi’s outreach, have also been submitting demands for greater inclusion in the national welfare schemes.
Then in February, the ministry would hold a national-level meeting here where leaders from various minority communities will be brought on one stage to talk about roti kapda aur makan. This is the first time that the Minorities Affairs Ministry is proactively engaging with the minorities, the government sources claimed.
There is even strong buzz that Cabinet Minister for Minorities Affairs Najma Heptullah, who would turn 75 in April, may be given a gubernatorial post. Narendra Modi’s Cabinet has been sticking to the below-75 age criteria to fill the ministerial berths. In that case, Naqvi may be promoted to a Cabinet berth.
Despite the government and the ruling party suggesting that way out of the conversion debate is to enact a strong anti-conversion law, there are already some vocal voices against such a move.
Union Ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Najma said the current laws were sufficient to deal with the issue, and there may not be any need for such a law. Other senior ministers also had pointed out that anti-conversion law will be difficult to enact, as it may go against some of the provisions of the Constitution.