July 18, 2021 3:17:05 am
The Kerala government’s decision to split merit-cum-means minority scholarships between people from Muslim and Christian communities as per their population figures has put the Congress-led UDF in the state in a fix.
While Congress, main opposition party in the state, welcomed the move to restructure distribution of scholarships, ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has not only flayed the Congress stand but also upped the ante, stating that the entire minority scholarship should be given to students from the Muslim community.
On Thursday, the Pinarayi Vijayan government had decided to introduce the new norm, which replaced the distribution ratio of 80:20 between Muslims and Christians. The move came following a High Court order that scholarships should be distributed equally, and in accordance with the population census.
Within the state’s minority population, 58.67 per cent people are Muslims and 40.6 percent Christians. Accordingly, the new norm would make the Muslim community entitled for approximately 59 per cent scholarships, and the share of Christians is likely to go up from 20 per cent to around 41 per cent.
The issue has put the Congress in a fix, with IUML being an ally and Christians a traditional support base. Opposition leader V D Satheesan initially welcomed the government’s decision, leading to outrage from IIUML. But senior IUML leader and MP E T Muhammed Basheer said Satheesan should learn more about the issue. “The change in scholarship norm is a big loss for the community. The UDF stand did not reflect in the government decision,’’ he said.
“The entire benefits, as per the Sachar Committee report, should go to Muslims…considering backwardness of the community,” IUML general secretary P K Kunhalikutty said. “The decision has led to nullification of the schemes for Muslims…. The government should have introduced a new scheme for others.”
As heat built up in UDF, Satheesan tweaked his stand. “The UDF wanted the existing schemes for Muslims to continue. The schemes under Sachar Committee report should be retained for Muslims, and a new scheme should be launched for other minorities,” he said.
Congress state president K Sudhakaran told the media in Kannur that UDF, as well as Congress, wants the government to take into confidence all communities. “We will discuss the issue to work out a formula, which would be presented before the government. The UDF would reach a consensus on the scholarship row,’’ he said.
On Saturday, the Chief Minister told the media that there would not be any change in the existing scholarships. “The court said scholarships cannot be distributed in a discriminatory manner. There would not be any reduction in the scholarships for existing beneficiaries. At the same time, those who have complaints about the scholarships will get benefits based on their population,’’ Vijayan said.
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