|Khan in Calcutta on Monday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
New Delhi, Feb. 11: Union minority affairs minister K. Rahman Khan said in Calcutta today that his request for an appointment with Mamata Banerjee to discuss poor implementation of minority plans was turned down by her office because she was busy.
Giving details of the rebuff, Khan said over phone from Calcutta: “I contacted Mamata Banerjee’s office last week expressing my willingness to meet her on February 11 and discuss several important issues concerning minorities and their development in Bengal, but she declined it. Her office informed (me) that she had prior engagements and won’t be able to meet me.”
When minister of state for minority affairs Giasuddin Mollah was told about the Union minister’s allegation, he said: “I am not aware of any such message from Khan.”
Mamata, who has severed ties with the Congress, herself holds the portfolio of the minority affairs department in the state.
Khan, who took over the ministry from Salman Khurshid in October last year, was critical of the way minority development programmes were being run in several states, including Bengal.
The minister has been touring states to review implementation of the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme for the development of minorities that was announced after the 2008 release of the Sachar Committee report on the condition of minorities.
“I have reports that the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme for minorities is not being implemented in letter and spirit in states with substantial minority population. The progress report of the Bengal government in this regard is not satisfactory and a lot needs to be done,” Khan said.
“But what can I do as her office declined it (the appointment with Mamata) by saying she is busy on February 11 and cannot meet (me),” Khan said.
“The condition of Muslims in Bengal was one of the worst according to the Sachar Committee report and that’s why I wanted to meet Mamata Banerjee and review the development work,” he said.
Khan said “development funds are not reaching some minority-concentrated areas in Bengal”.
The 15-point plan, announced in 90 minority-concentration districts across the country, has provisions for scholarships to minority students, woman empowerment and self-employment loans, among other things.
Mamata has repeatedly said that 99 per cent of the work she had promised for the uplift of Muslims has been completed. The vote of the minority community was critical to Mamata’s Assembly election victory. The Trinamul-Congress combine won over 90 of the 124 Muslim-dominated seats in the polls.
The minority-concentration districts in Bengal are Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Nadia, the two Dinajpurs, both the 24-Parganas, Burdwan, Cooch Behar, Howrah and Calcutta.
Jab at state
Union minority affairs minister K. Rahman Khan today criticised the state for not doing enough for the minorities, saying “whatever little” was being done was happening because of funds from Delhi.
“The state is utilising the Centre’s funds and claiming credit,” Khan told a minority convention in Calcutta.