National Minorities Commission says demand is ‘untenable’, but BJP govt can’t send out this message ahead of Lok Sabha polls.
New Delhi: Fearing political backlash from Hindu groups, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has decided to go slow on its report meant to examine whether Hindus can be granted minority status in seven states. It will only submit its report after the 2019 elections.
“The demand to grant minority status to Hindus is untenable… This way, every state would have its own minorities,” an official in the commission said on the condition of anonymity.
“But the BJP government can’t send out the message that it is not in favour of granting minority status to Hindus, so we have decided to submit the report after the 2019 elections. The government has made up its mind to postpone the issue till after the elections.”
Caught in a quandary
A three-member sub-committee was set up by the commission in January, based on BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay’s plea in the Supreme Court for granting minority status to Hindus in states where they account for less than 50 per cent of the population — Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, plus the Union Territory of Lakshadweep.
The apex court rejected Upadhyay’s plea in November, and asked him to approach the NCM instead.
The NCM has been reluctant to grant minority status to Hindus from the very beginning. According to reports in the media, in its interim report, the commission had already concluded that it is not possible to grant Hindus minority status at the national level due to “constitutional boundaries”. Moreover, scores of communities will rise up to demand minority status across the country if it is granted to Hindus in these states.
As of now, six religious communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains — have been notified in the Gazette of India as ‘minority’ communities all over the country.
However, stating so in its report may end up antagonising the BJP’s core vote bank in the run-up to the general elections next year.
The Constitution only allows for granting minority status to these six communities, and there can be no alteration to the provision, NCM chairperson Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi had earlier said. Asked if this would be recommended in the final report, Rizvi told ThePrint: “The report is still in the making, and we cannot divulge its contents just yet.”
BJP’s Upadhyay has maintained that in the absence of minority status, Hindus in non-Hindu dominant states are deprived of the benefits meant for minorities in an “illegal and arbitrary manner”.