Bhattacharjee, Achuthanandan: Education salvo
New Delhi, Feb. 1: Bengal and Kerala have been accused of using discriminatory practices against minority communities.
The National Monitoring Committee for Minorities Education, chaired by human resource development minister Arjun Singh, has complained to the states — both run by Left governments.
The agency also plans to write to CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, sources said.
Karat had assured an agency representative in August 2007 that the governments would address the complaints of the minority communities.
But five months on, little has changed, a senior member said.
At a meeting attended by Singh, a note accusing Buddhadeb Bhattacharjees Bengal government of interfering with the appointment of teachers in minority-run schools was discussed. The meeting asked both states to end the discriminatory practices.
A standing committee of the monitoring agency is in Kerala, trying to convince chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan to abandon the states controversial plan to declassify Muslims and Christians as minorities.
The HRD minister is keen to sort out any contentious issue on minority education through dialogue, not confrontation. So, we are speaking to relevant political leaders, said Zafar Ali Naqvi, the chairman of the standing committee.
Naqvi, however, clarified that the national body was confident that the states run by the UPAs biggest ally were committed to the task of minority empowerment.
Muslims and Christians constitute over 20 per cent each of Keralas population. In 2006, the Kerala government had introduced a law taking away their minority benefits.
After Kerala High Court struck down the law, the state government moved the Supreme Court — a decision that agency officials claim has led to massive friction between the government and the communities.
The Constitution of India is clear that both Muslims and Christians are minority communities. The Kerala governments attempts to remove minority status for them is illegal and will hurt the interests of minorities in the state, Mani Jacob, a member of the national agency who is in Kerala, said.
In Bengal, minority education is not a priority for the government, a senior agency member said.
The Bengal government goes to Muslims when elections arrive, but are doing no better than any other party in helping minority education in the state, he said.
Besides Karat, the monitoring agency had complained to senior Bengal government officials but no action has been taken, he added.