The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Salve in CM salvo

Calcutta, March 1: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has criticised the Centre for its failure to formulate a national sub-plan for Muslims and allocate enough funds for minority development in the Union budget.

“The budget has earmarked only Rs 108 crore for minority development. On February 18, I had discussed with the Prime minister and the Planning Commission deputy chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the need for a national sub-plan for Muslims on the lines of the sub-plan for blocks with a predominantly scheduled caste and scheduled tribe population.

“The Prime Minister agreed in principle and Montek asked many questions. But the budget reveals he (Montek) did not realise its importance,’’ Bhattacharjee said.

The chief minister was addressing a convention organised by the Jamait Ulema-i-Bangla on the implementation of the Sachar committee’s report. The Jamait Ulema-i-Bangla is patronised by the followers of the Pirs of Phurphura Sarif, a clan of the Sufi sect with influence among Bengali Muslims.

Bhattacharjee, CPM state secretary Biman Bose and state minorities development minister Abdus Sattar apparently decided to attend the meet to counter the campaign against the Left Front government by the Jamait Ulema-i-Hind, which opposes the government’s land acquisition drive for industry. But they steered clear of the controversy.

Admitting that the socio-economic condition of Muslims is “not what it should have been”, the chief minister said: “We commissioned a study on Muslims by the Indian Statistical Institute before the Centre set up the Sachar panel. We are awaiting the report.”

He was critical of the Sachar report failing to record the percentage of land distributed among poor and marginal Muslim peasants in Bengal.

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