Ansari’s ‘affirmative action for Muslims’ comment draws VHP ire


NEW DELHI: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Tuesday criticised vice-president Hamid Ansari over his pitch for “affirmative action” for Muslims, alleging it was a political and communal statement which did not befit the dignity of his office.

The Hindutva organisation said such a demand seeks to “push Muslims in dark alleys of dissatisfaction whose consequences will be dangerous.

“With due respect to the vice-president’s chair, VHP condemns this rank communal statement. This is a political statement… which does not befit the office of a vice-president,” VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain said.

He said Indian Muslims enjoy more constitutional rights than they do in many Muslim countries, claiming that they have been appeased by various means over the years. Jain said Ansari should apologise for his “unfortunate” statement.

Identity, security, education, empowerment and a fair share in decision-making are the key issues India’s Muslims are facing, vice-president Hamid Ansari had said earlier. He added the problems of exclusion and discrimination the community was confronted with have to be corrected by the state.

He also cited the official objective of “sab ka sath, sab ka vikas” (with everyone, for everyone’s growth), calling it commendable and added a pre-requisite for this is “affirmative action” to ensure a common starting point and ability in all to walk at the required pace.

The vice-president was speaking at the inauguration of the All India Majlois-e-Mushawarat Golden Jubilee in Delhi on Monday.

Tracing the condition of Muslims since Independence and the work in the past decade to delineate the contours of the problem, Ansari said studies bring forth sufficient evidence to substantiate the view that “inequality traps prevent the marginalised and work in favour of the dominant groups in society”.

“It is evident from the compendium of official reports that the principal problems confronting India’s Muslims relate to: identity and security; education and empowerment; equitable share in the largesse of the state; and fair share in decision making.

“Each of these is a right of the citizen. The shortcomings in regard to each have been analysed threadbare. The challenge before us today is to develop strategies and methodologies to address them.”

The vice-president said deprivation, exclusion and discrimination (including failure to provide security) is to be corrected by the state; this needs to be done at the earliest and appropriate instruments developed for it.

“Political sagacity, the imperative of social peace, and public opinion play an important role in it. Experience shows that the corrective has to be both at the policy and the implementation levels; the latter, in particular, necessitates mechanisms to ensure active cooperation of the state governments,” he said.

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