The Maharashtra government’s decisions to enforce a ban on cow slaughter and not to implement the 5 per cent reservation for Muslims in education are neither driven by religious hatred against Muslims nor part of a promotion of Hindutva agenda, according to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
With these two decisions drawing flak, Fadnavis sought to justify them saying the move to ban cow slaughter was to promote agro-economics and the results would show over the next few months. “Muslims would derive the benefits of a string of welfare schemes in education and skill development facilitating new job avenues in the state, without jobs or seats in educational institutions being reserved for them,” he said.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Fadnavis said: “I can state with absolute command that my government is purely guided by the Indian Constitution. Policy decisions are taken keeping in mind the socio-economic welfare of the state. Those viewing every decision from a narrow prism and accusing us of a hidden agenda are playing dirty politics.”
He went on to accuse those attributing religious motives or raking up an ideological debate of trying to create a wedge among people or displaying their political malice.
Fadnavis said it was the previous Congress-NCP government that hurriedly mooted an ordinance without legal safeguards for 5 per cent reservation for Muslims in the education sector and for jobs. “Now, courts have struck down the decision to extend reservation in public service, but allowed it in education. How could we enforce a decision with in-built contradictions? It was bound to be dismissed in the Supreme Court.”
Similar decisions taken with an “eye on vote bank politics” in some states had led to legal wrangles, he said.
His defence is that while pursuing the issue by tackling legal and constitutional hurdles, the BJP-led government was simultaneously enforcing welfare schemes for Muslims in education and employment. “My government believes in the principle of justice to all and appeasement to none. Show me a single policy decision of my government in the last three months which was politically or ideologically driven,” Fadnavis said, adding that given the legacy he inherited from the Congress-NCP regime, to expect his government to fix all problems in three months would be unrealistic.
The chief minister has, however, promised to publish a sector-wise status report after his government completes a year in office.
With the Budget Session getting under way Monday, he said, the government would carry out reforms in financial investments in critical sectors such as agriculture, industry and infrastructure. “While 10 per cent more devolution of central funds would work to Maharashtra’s advantage, which would reap maximum benefit, we have asked the centre to allow untied grants. Chief ministers across the country are pushing for untied grants. Today, we are completely bound by centrally-driven schemes. If the centre allows untied grants, it would provide more flexibility to the state on utilisation of central funds for state schemes,” he said.