Hyderabad, 20 July-2014, PTI: Union Minister Najma Heptulla claims that confidence of Muslims in BJP is increasing because of its “development-for-all” agenda, as she expressed optimism that “vote-bank politics” syndrome will now be a thing of the past.
Is the confidence of Indian Muslims in the Narendra Modi led BJP-government increasing?
“Muslims have voted for the BJP (in recent Lok Sabha elections) and they are slowly getting their confidence in voting for the BJP because it’s for the first time in the history of India that any leader has focused on development in a national election and talked about inclusive development, both for majority and minority in the entire nation and Muslims are included in it,” she said.
“He (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) talked about everybody. And when he talked about development, minorities, specifically Muslims, have voted for him. (Muslims) may not have voted 100 percent but they have voted and slowly the growth (in voting for BJP) will increase as the confidence increases,” the Minister of Minority Affairs told PTI in an interview on Saturday.
Irrespective of caste, religion, region and language considerations, people have voted for Modi, the former Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha said, adding that she is “very confident” that the concept of “vote-bank politics is not going to be there” in future.
Without naming the Congress, she attacked it, saying the previous governments only paid “lip-service” to the issue of minority welfare and they have not actually cared for them. Sachar Committee and other reports on minority development and welfare have “exposed” them (the Congress that not much had been done for minorities).”
Asked if she thought Narendra Modi should visit Pakistan to improve bilateral relations, Heptulla said it’s for him to decide, but pointed out the Prime Minister has already gone a “step further” by inviting Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony.
“I feel that now it’s time for Pakistan to show some consideration and extend a hand of friendship towards India and stop supporting the terrorists because it’s not good for either country (India and Pakistan). Nobody, Nobody, I emphasise, should support any terrorist activities,” the Minister said. “We cannot tolerate terrorism,” she stressed.
“Actually, the Prime Minister has shown large heartedness by inviting all the SAARC leaders for his swearing-in ceremony. That include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Maldives… four countries represented by Muslim leaders. So, that sends a very good message to them that he wants to be friendly with everybody… all the neighbouring countries,” she said.
Heptulla said the NDA government would launch a programme for the upgradation of skills and training in ancestral arts for development for the minorities called ‘Upgradation of Traditional Skills in Arts, Resources and Goods’ to preserve the traditional arts and crafts which are a rich heritage.
She noted that a large number of minorities are engaged in traditional skills like weaving, wood carvings and carpet-making, adding that the NDA government would lay great emphasis on preserving such ancestral skills passed on from generation to generation.
“We want to preserve them by training more and more people. Younger generation is not going for those skills. Traditional art and craft is dying. So, we have to preserve it because it’s a great heritage of India. So, there will be substantive allocation for it,” the Minister said.
On an additional amount of Rs 100 crore for modernisation of Madarsas announced in the Union budget, Heptulla said though the subject comes under the purview of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, her understanding is that modern and digital education would be imparted and training given at such institutions, in addition to religious teachings, so that employment opportunities of wards get a boost.