Sops for Everyone But Minorities in Modi’s Pre-Poll Budget

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Finance Minister Piyush Goel presented NDA government’s Interim Budget 2019 on Feb 1.

Muslim luminaries and economic experts feel that the minority community has been ignored in the present budget, funds for major minority schemes trimmed

Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — Finance Minister Piyush Goel presented NDA government’s Interim Budget 2019 on February 1. In the 22-page-budget speech which addressed different sections of the society, the minorities failed to get a single mention, thereby further increasing their disappointment with Narendra Modi government.

Given the fact that the budget was released a few months ahead of the election, the budget has been dubbed as ‘election campaign speech’ by the Opposition. The budget has been panned not just by the opposition but also from various sections of the society for different reasons. But one perspective which has not been openly discussed is the minority aspect of the budget.

Commenting on the same, Zafar-Ul-Islam Khan, Chairman of Delhi Minority Commission, said “The allocation of funds for schemes attributed to the minorities has not been increased. It is a matter of grave concern that this government does not care about the sufferings of the minorities. The fund allocated for the schemes related to the madarsas and Moulana Azad foundation were already paltry. Further cuts have been made to funds allocated to these schemes. It shows that the slogan “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” of the present government is anything but true. This government is only working on the Hindu agenda. For the recent Kumbh Mela, Uttar Pradesh government had granted Rs. 2400 crore from the state funds alone. This shows what their priorities are? They don’t care about the minorities at all.”

Khan, who has also been a two-term president of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawrat, while speaking to Caravan Daily, added, “Minorities don’t hold any value in the eyes of present dispensation. They are just carrying a burden, which they would love doing away with, if they could. This government has no intention to work for the betterment of the minorities. It is diluting minority schemes or cutting their funds. It seems useless to expect anything from this government.”

Modi government, often criticized for marginalizing the minorities, Muslims in particular, has hardly done anything to take the community forward. The same was reflected in its budget. Minorities, failed to even get a mention in the budget speech.

“In this budget, mentions different social sections. Even the nomadic communities have been touched upon, but the minorities have been simply ignored,” pointed out Waquar Anwar, an economic expert, while talking to the Caravan Daily. He further noted, “There is indeed a minority budget and it has been maintained with the increase of some percentage. In his speech, he (Finance Minister) addressed every section of the society and their concerns but the minorities. It seems as though they do not exist. What can we expect from them?”

Anwar maintained that the small increase in the budget allocation for the minorities will not cause any change to the present situation. He felt that the increase in the allocation would be counter-balanced by the soaring inflation rate. Anwar was also of the opinion that the meager increase was not done because the government felt a need to increase it. On the contrary it was due to the systematic functioning of the budgetary procedure.

“The budget is a good calculation for the elections and bad mathematics for budgeting,” Anwar observed about the interim budget.

A glance through the budget clearly indicates that it has been designed to woo different sections of the society – farmers, youth, poor, SC/ST, workers and labourers, traders, women, upper caste and middle class in different ways. As the budget is being considered as election manifesto of the ruling party, they have made it evident that they don’t intend to pay much head to the needs of the minorities, who in the recent years have become the political untouchables , so their economic rights does not hold any importance. It’s quite evident that the BJP-led government is not ready to include them in their slogan ‘Sab Ka Saath Sab KaVikaas’.

Minorities who are already disappointed with the Modi government for its grim silence over lynching cases, attack on personal laws, communal riots and fake encounters, were further let down by the budget, which failed to even mention them.

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