People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 16

April 27, 2008


In Defence Of Minority Rights

Resolution Adopted at the XIX Congress on March 31, 2008

Protection of the rights of the minorities and overcoming the relative socio-economic backwardness they face have assumed special significance in the context of the offensive of communal fascist forces. The Muslim community has traditionally been the target of Hindu communalists led by the RSS. The recent spate of attacks on Christians in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa demonstrates the further spread of the hate campaign.

The XIX Congress of the CPI(M) strongly condemns these attacks and demands that the guilty be brought to book and punished. It reiterates that the fight against BJP and Hindutva communalism and defence of minorities is a cornerstone of its national policies.

The sangh parivar would like the majority in the country to believe that the minorities such as Muslims and Christians who constitute barely 13.4 and 2.3 per cent of the population is the root cause of our national problems. The report of the Sachar Committee on the social, economic and educational status of Muslims in India exposes the divisive and completely false but widely disseminated propaganda of the BJP and sangh parivar that the Muslims have been ‘appeased’ by various central and state governments. It is also an exposure of the scant government attention paid to the genuine needs and grievances of the community.

Since the Sachar Committee was appointed by the UPA government as part-fulfillment of its CMP assurance to improve the status of the minorities, it was hoped that it would take immediate action on the implementation of its recommendations. Our Party had formulated a Charter for the Advancement of the Muslim Community and submitted it to the prime minister. The most important demand was for the formulation of a sub-plan for minority communities. Unfortunately, the UPA government and the Planning Commission have not accepted this demand. The charter had also specifically included the demands for Muslim women which had been neglected in the Sachar report. In Budget 2008-09, an additional Rs 500 crore has been allocated, but this is far from adequate. In the previous year, in the Budget 2007-08, even the meager sop of scholarships for 20,000 minority community students was not utilised in that year. The allocation to minority affairs ministry was reduced to Rs 350 crore and the demand for increased financial allocation to minority institutions declined. The scheme for the development of Waqf properties that has received only Rs 30 crore between its inception in l974-75 and March 31, 2007 was ignored. The demand for increasing the authorised capital for the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation from Rs 500 to Rs 1500 crore has not been realised.

The concept of Multi-Sectoral Development Plan for minority-concentrated districts has been under discussion for the last ten years. Finally, in the 2008-09 budget, less than Rs 4 crore per identified district has been provided. Our Party has been demanding that blocks be identified as the basic unit. In the area of priority sector lending, the share of Muslim community is assessed to be only 6 per cent.

The ATR on the Sachar Committee recommendations presented by the government at the end of 2007 reflects tardy implementation. Once again it repeated the need of conducting further studies and enquiries and did not propose any concrete policy measures backed by budgetary support.

The government has also failed to table the report of the Rangnath Commission on the question of granting scheduled caste status to dalit Christians and dalit Muslims in parliament.

The XIX Congress of the CPI(M) notes with great concern that the BJP and sangh parivar are communalising the issue of development of large sections of our population and it calls on all democratic-minded people to strongly rebuff such propaganda.

The XIX Congress of the CPI(M) asserts that democratic demands of the socio-economic development have to be raised from the secular plank and the minorities should not fall prey to the narrow sectarian communal appeal. The CPI(M) will oppose all efforts of fundamentalists in the minority communities to divert genuine issues into sectarian mobilisations.

The XIX Congress welcomes the efforts made by the Left-led governments in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, to ensure the safety and security of minority groups. These governments are also the only ones in the country who have ensured land rights to landless sections of the minority, particularly in West Bengal, where a substantial section live in rural areas. Further steps are being taken to ensure their development and progress in all fields.

The XIX Congress of the CPI(M) demands time-bound implementation of concrete steps with adequate allocations to empower minority communities through education, employment and wherever required, through land reform and land distribution. It also demands granting of SC status to dalit Christians and dalit Muslims.