The difference of opinion within the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) over the Kerala government's minority scholarships has come out in the open with the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) questioning the stance taken by Leader of the Opposition V D Satheesan.
While Satheesan has partially welcomed the new formula adopted by the government to restructure the minority student scholarship ration, the IUML is not at all in favour of the revised ratio.
IUML leader P K Kunhalikutty on Saturday said no political party other than the BJP can agree with the Pinarayi Vijayan government's new formula which is based on population. He said he had spoken with Satheesan and the leader of the opposition has made it clear that he stands by the IUML's stance on the matter. He said Satheesan could clarify his stance if needed.
Satheesan on Saturday said the government has agreed most of the proposals suggested by the UDF. He, however, said the government should address the IUML's concerns.
The Kerala government on Thursday said it will restructure the minority student scholarship ratio as per the 2011 population census, to ensure that no community is deprived of benefits.
A decision in this regard was taken by the state cabinet on Saturday.
The announcement came after the Kerala High Court had on May 29 quashed the 2015 state government order providing scholarships in 80:20 ratio to Muslims and Latin Christians and Converted Christians, saying it was 'legally unsustainable.'
The IUML came out against the government's decision saying it would deprive the Muslim community of the benefits suggested by the Satchar committee.
"The CPM's claim that the government took a decision on the minority scholarship issue considering Muslim League's opinion also is not factual," Kunhalikutty wrote on Facebook on Friday.
The IUML had submitted a memorandum to the chief minister requesting him to take the steps to ensure that Muslim community gets 100 per cent of the benefits suggested by the Sachar committee. The League had also made it clear that the government can adopt the necessary policy to provide the other minority communities with the benefits they deserve.
CPM acting state secretary A Vijayaraghavan on Saturday slammed the IUML for opposing the new formula. "The government took the decision to distribute the scholarships based on population after calling an all-party meet. Within the UDF, the Muslim League is now taking a different stance. We need to support the right decision taken by the government. Nobody will lose the benefits one deserves with the new formula. The government is ready to find the resources to give the benefits to the additional beneficiaries," he said.
While announcing the new ration, the government had said that the scholarship ratio will be restructured in such a manner that no community will be denied the benefit. It will be based on the 2011 census data as instructed by the Kerala High Court, the state government said in a release.
As per the census, the state has a minority population of 26.56 per cent of Muslims, 18.38 per cent of Christians, 0.01 per cent Buddhists, 0.01 per cent Jain community and 0.01 per cent Sikh population.
The scholarship ratio will be restructured without the eligible sections losing the number and amount of scholarships, the government added.
"A sum of Rs 23.51 crore is required for distributing scholarships and the cabinet meeting decided to sanction a non-budgetary allocation of Rs 6.2 crore," the release said.
In effect, the scholarship distribution ratio of 80:20 (80% for Muslims and 20% for Latin and Converted Christians) will change to approximately 60:40. Even if the ratio has come down for the Muslim community, the government would continue to grant scholarships to as many Muslim candidates as last year. The total amount disbursed as scholarships to the community will also remain unchanged.
However, the number of beneficiaries in the Christian community (Latin and Converted Christians) would go up. This is why the Cabinet has allotted an additional Rs 6.2 crore for the purpose.
The high court had directed the state government to pass appropriate orders, providing merit-cum-means scholarship to members of the notified minority communities within the state equally and in accordance with the latest population census available with the State Minority Commission.