Minority scholarship: Congress, Muslim League to hold bilateral talks to resolve differences

Rift in oppn UDF over minority scholarship issue as IUML questions Kerala govt's new ratio
Kunhalikutty and V D Satheeshan. File photos

The Congress and the Muslim League have decided to hold bilateral talks to resolve the differences that have cropped up in the UDF following the LDF government's decision to restructure the  minority students scholarship ratio for Muslims and backward Christians in the state as per  the 2011 population census.

The two parties have decided to hold the bilateral discussions in view of the assembly session that is scheduled to begin from Thursday. Prior to the talks, KPPCC president K Sudhakaran spoke to Muslim League leaders over phone. He will also speak to the leaders of other constituent partners.

The government was forced to take a decision on the minority scholarship issue following a court verdict and the opposition pressure. The issue has become contentious for UDF allies, Congress and Muslim League. Muslim League leaders believe that opposition  leader V D Satheesan's initial reaction supporting the government decision had created the problem. However, Satheesan contended that some Muslim League leaders reacted in a haste after hearing the news on TV channels and without  understanding his statement in its full context, thus resulting in the confusion.

As per the fresh decision to restructure minority scholarship based on population ratio, Muslims who have been receiving 80 percent share would now get only 55 percent,  while Christian communities who so far secured 20 percent would get 44 percent share.

So far only the Latin Catholics and converted Christians used to get the scholarship among Christians. But with the Cabinet decision based on the court order now coming out , all Christian communities would be entitled to scholarship. That is the reason the UDF constituent Kerala Congress welcomed the decision.

The  government  has tried to mollify the the Muslim community by clarifying that it would not reduce the lion's  share that they are getting under the minority scholarship scheme. This means the number of people from Muslim community who got scholarship last year would continue to receive the benefit. Since the number of Christians would now increase, the government has decided to allocate more funds .

These two suggestions were  placed by the UDF during the all-party meeting. The opposition leader welcomed the government for taking decision based on their suggestions.

However, the UDF raised a demand for introducing special scholarship scheme for Muslims taking into account the spirit of Sachar Committee report, but the government declined to accept it. The Congress is ready to back Muslim League's demand for implementation of a special scholarship scheme for Muslims.

The Congress has also pointed out that if the Cabinet decision is opposed totally then such a stand would not be acceptable to many sections of people who are supporting the UDF.

"There is no injustice in implementing minority scholarship based on population ratio. The government has repeatedly made it clear. This is a decision based on the court verdict. Those sections who did not get justice in minority scholarship should get justice now," said Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, Major Archbishop, Syro-Malabar Church.

"The LDF government and CPM will go down in history as forces which disturbed Kerala's communal harmony by dividing people on religious lines. When separate scholarship schemes can be implemented for  different communities, the government move to distribute money from scheme recommended by the Sachar Committee is with ulterior motive," stated Opposition deputy leader P K Kunhalikutty.

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