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Congress woos tribals, minorities

Ahmedabad, Oct. 11: A minority welfare ministry, a new state minority commission and a university for tribal students were some of the electoral promises announced by the Gujarat Congress today.

A separate board will be created for other backward and deprived classes, and 50 per cent reservation introduced for differently abled people in jobs such as those for liftmen, telephone operators, receptionists and clerks, the party said.

The promises were aimed at the Other Backward Classes, Dalits, tribals and minorities, who make up almost 75 per cent of the state’s electorate.

State Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia, legislative party leader Shaktisinh Gohil and state election committee chairman Shankersinh Vaghela made the promises as part of the party’s 12-point “Gujarat People Development Vision 2012”.

If the Congress comes to power, Modhwadia said, it will set up a separate ministry under a cabinet minister to look after the interests and problems of minorities. It will also set up a minority commission and build a new Haj house.

The minority ministry will develop the state’s neglected Muslim pilgrimage centres, he said. Minority status will be granted to schools denied the tag.

Sachar committee recommendations will be implemented, the wakf board strengthened, Muslim graveyards upgraded, and a board set up for registration of madarsas. The government will arrange coaching classes for minority students.

Deserving minority students will be given a pre-matric scholarship which the Modi government had rejected on the ground that the scheme was “discriminatory”, thereby depriving 90,000 students, the Congress leaders said.

Free bicycles will be given to minority girl students and hostels will be built in each district for minority girls.

The state government will create a corpus for free education of students studying at the proposed tribal university, to be set up in a tribal area in eastern Gujarat.

If voted to power, the Congress will also form a Nomad Development Corporation for the state’s 40 nomadic tribes, the leaders said.