Zia Haq, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 29, 2010
Two BJP-governed states — Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh — have raised eyebrows for robustly implementing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's key measures for minorities, which are overseen by the minority affairs ministry. In a Cabinet appraisal, chaired by Singh on Thursday to review the PM's 15-point national plan for minorities, Gujarat was found to have put in place "standard operating procedures" to prevent and take action during communal riots, along with nine other states.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has kicked in efficiency in governance and also roped in actor Amitabh Bachchan as state brand ambassador. Many view these steps as Modi's efforts to correct his negative image in the aftermath of the 2002 riots.
BJP-ruled Karnataka, prone to communal tension, too has implemented the procedures, as has Goa. However, most Congress-ruled states, such as Maharashtra have not, barring Haryana. Maharashtra's Nanded and Malegoan remain flashpoints for sectarian clashes.
Madhya Pradesh, a BJP-ruled state, has earned a good rating for implementing a Central initiative to "modernise" madrassas.
"The PM had called for quantifiable evidence on minority welfare. He expressed happiness over the minority affairs ministry's steps to implement his 15-point programme for minorities," an official said, requesting anonymity.
The "standard operating procedures" are aimed at both preventing and swiftly controlling riots by laying down a chain of specific commands to various local authorities.