The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Digvijay varsity offer to minorities

Bhopal, July 22: Digvijay Singh has sought to don the mantle of a Muslim reformer, offering to donate 100 acres of land for a university on the lines of Aligarh Muslim University.

Speaking to AMU vice chancellor Naseem Ahmad and other officials after laying the foundation stone of Khawaja Garib Nawaz Foundation School of Excellence yesterday, he said he was ready to donate the land if they agreed to set up an AMU-type institution or a chapter of the university here.

The Madhya Pradesh chief minister, who is touring the state offering sops to every caste and religion ahead of the November polls, came down heavily on “opportunist and obscurantist forces” which, he claimed, were making the largest minority community lag behind in education, industry and other development-related index.

He said the Muslims needed a fresh agenda to join the national mainstream. He wondered why they had not got the benefits of quality education in spite of a series of schemes.

With the Assembly elections fast approaching, Digvijay has been on a sop spree. He first announced a hike in endowment of temple priests and mosque imams. Then, he dealt a blow to the BJP by increasing the job quota for other backward classes from 14 to 27 per cent.

Next, he promised tribals he would convert 925 forest villages into revenue villages so that they could avail of state-sponsored funding and avoid the legal hassles of forest conservation laws. He regularised about six lakh jhuggis, listed as encroached and illegal land in government records.

He also distributed leases to 2 lakh landless Dalits, reducing government owned grazing land from 5 to 3 per cent. The move faced stiff opposition from the upper castes, but Digvijay was unfazed and slapped a fine on those who tried to forcefully occupy the land allotted to the Dalits.

His government is considering waiving Rs 400 crore in electricity dues for farmers.

When a finance department official objected, he quipped that good economics did not make good politics in an election year.

Digvijay has also been going around offering concessions to traders, businessmen, government servants, lawyers, doctors and teachers so that every segment of society is covered before the polls are formally announced and the model code of conduct enforced.

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