Amidst the furore over conversions and protests against “PK” by Hindutva hard liners, the Modi government is working on an outreach programme concentrating on around 90 minority concentration districts. Prime minister Narendra Modi wants the government to take steps to build confidence among minorities, sources said. With the slogan “Modi sarkar janata ke dwar (Modi government at the people’s door)”, the minority affairs ministry is undertaking a “Mission Empowerment” to ensure roll out of government schemes.Of the 90 districts in which the population of minorities is over 25 per cent and where either socio-economic or basic amenities or both indicators are below the national average, 21 fall in Uttar Pradesh and 12 in West Bengal. For the BJP, both UP and West Bengal, where the Muslims have an influential population in several seats, are politically crucial.Sources said government was of the view that once the minorities were taken out of the poverty trap, it would end vote bank politics. The government wanted to convey the message that it was committed to development and social uplift and did not want the focus to shift from that, they said.With less than 10 per cent of the funds for minority-related schemes filtering down to the beneficiaries, minister of state for minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi will travel to the districts and discuss implementation of the schemes, involving educational, economic and social aspects, with state governments. Though the BJP-led government has announced a higher outlay of Rs 3734.01 crore for the ministry of minority affairs and schemes for skill development, its impact has not been felt on the ground, the sources said. Besides, advertisements, pamphlets and books brought out by the government do not have the same effect as reaching out to people directly, they said. The BJP-led NDA government’s outlay for the ministry was 5.75 per cent higher than that of the Congress-led UPA regime.The aggressive statements by Hindutva hardliners on issues like “ghar-wapsi (re-conversions)” and recently over the Aamir Khan starrer “PK” had overshadowed public debate at a time when the government was trying to take a slew of pro-reform measures. However, the BJP tread cautiously. “The BJP has taken no official line on PK. It is not a political issue and does not warrant a political reaction,” said party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao.


Government to take steps to build confidence among minorities