Stating that providing reservation was no solution to development concerns of Muslims, Najma Heptulla, who took charge as Minister for Minority Affairs, today said the new government will ensure progress of all communities, with special stress on education facilities for minorities.
“We want to work for economic, social and inclusive development (of minorities). Unless they don’t become a part of development process, there will be lopsided development,” she said.
When asked by reporters about steps she plans to take for welfare of Muslims, Heptulla responded, “Why only Muslims? This is not a Ministry for Muslims affairs, but Ministry of Minority Affairs”.
“Muslims are not a minority. In fact, the Parsis are a minority and their number is dwindling. They need help so that do not diminish.”
According to 2001 census, there are 138 million Muslims in the country who account for 13.4 per cent of the population
Replying to another question on reservation for minorities, the Minister said that it was not a “solution” but an “escape route“.
“We never promised reservation for Muslims. It was the Congress which did that. It is no solution to development concerns of Muslims, but an escape route. And what about others (minority communities)?
“We believe in seeking out a solution through constitutional framework as it does not allow reservation on the basis of religion. We would like to work so that everybody gets a level playing ground,” she added.
When asked whether the new government would implement recommendations of the Sachar Committee, she said that it was “not necessary” to implement all the recommendations.
Heptulla, grand-niece of freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, added that she will set “priorities” after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“It is important to bring in development through education and there is a need to develop the educational institutions of minorities,” Heptulla said.