BJP to oppose 103rd Indian Constitutional Amendment redefining minorities’ status

 By Pervez Bari,
Bhopal : The Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP), will oppose tooth and nail the proposed 103rd Constitutional Amendment to be brought in the ensuing monsoon session of Indian Parliament in August which would redefine the status of minorities once again.
Addressing a Press conference here today BJP's national president Rajnath Singh declared that his party will strongly oppose the proposed amendment bill to be brought by the Union United Progressive Alliance, (UPA), Government inside and outside the Parliament with all its vigour.
Singh termed the bill, which has been approved by the UPA Cabinet in the first week of May this year, as "dangerous" and "divisive" and demanded that it should not be moved in both Houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha).
Rajnath Singh was in Bhopal in connection with the "Vikas Sammelan" (Development Convention) of the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh. It is aimed at training workers to propagate the party's policies and the State Government's effectively with an eye on the general elections to the State legislative Assembly next year. Singh was the main speaker at the convention.
Singh said that religion should not be the basis of division anymore as India has been divided once while referring to the partition of India in 1947 without saying it explicitly in words. At the state level minorities should not be divided, he added.
When newsmen repeatedly questioned as to what he meant by "dangerous" and "divisive" about the 103rd Amendment, Rajnath fumbled and was unable to give satisfactory replies.
Singh informed that National Commission for Minority Education chairperson M.M.A. Siddique has written to HRD Minister Arjun Singh and Minority Affairs Minister AR Antulay saying the constitutional amendment that the Cabinet approved is against the spirit of Article 30 of the Constitution. "Articles 25 to 30 guarantee protection of religious, cultural and educational rights to both majority and minority communities.
Therefore, it was felt not to define minority. We cannot supersede this vision," Siddique has written. He has quoted BR Ambedkar saying in the Constituent Assembly that the term minority is used to "prevent political safeguards" and its
definition can result in its interpretation in a narrow sense. The government decision, the Commission felt, will defeat the purpose of Article 30.
It may be pointed out here that the 103rd Constitutional Amendment seeks to have state-wise minority status rather than national status, as is the norm now. Minorities in states will be decided through a presidential notification in consultation with the state government. The National Commission for Minority Education says the amendment will make Christian students from Meghalaya and Mizoram ineligible for admission in Christian colleges like St. Stephens, as they will not have domicile minority status. Likewise, Sikhs from Punjab and Muslims from Jammu & Kashmir will not have minority status. Christian-run institutions in Kerala may also lose their minority tag.  
Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh urged the UPA Government to bring in anti-terror bill which is more stringent than the repealed-POTA. He assured that BJP will support it whole-heartedly in both Houses of Parliament.
It may be noted here that POTA which has enacted by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, (NDA), and UPA     repealed it soon after it came to power.
While describing the UPA Government as "directionless" and "spineless", Singh said Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil has given a clean chit to Pakistan saying that it was not responsible for infiltration across the border. However, Union Defense Minister AK Antony in a contradictory statement has expressed apprehensions about infiltration was taking place from Pakistan. Thus, UPA is "United Confused Alliance", Singh quipped.
Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh alleged that the charges against the UPA-Left presidential candidate Mrs. Pratibha Patil had surfaced due to an "internal rift in the Congress" and sought "logical replies" from her. 
"We have not leveled the allegations against Mrs. Patil," Singh declared .
"Instead of describing the allegations as baseless, Patil should give logical replies to the charges to ensure the people's trust in the highest constitutional office and maintain its dignity," Singh said. "The allegations against Patil are specific and require to the point replies," he added
Singh refuted Congress' allegations that BJP's anti-women stance had been exposed by the drive against Patil. He claimed that the BJP has been supporting the women's reservation bill and was on the way to become the first party to give 33 per cent reservation to the fairer sex in its organization.
He charged that fake Indian currencies are being printed in Quetta in Pakistan and these are being pumped into the country via Nepal and Bangladesh. He asked the Union Government to tell as to what it was doing to stop it.
Singh urged the UPA Government to call all-party meeting to discuss holding of Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections of various states simultaneously so as to save on time, energy and money.
"We should think seriously over it and debate it," he remarked. ([email protected])