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24 September 2013

BJP appeasement of minorities: Eyeing elections, free land for Urdu varsity in Bhopal, Christian appointed Chief Secretary

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By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Madhya Pradesh in order to put up a secular image at the time of state Vidhan Sabha elections which are round the corner has taken two steps consciously.

The BJP Government with strategy of elections to state legislative assembly weighing heavily on its mind allotted 6.44 acres of land, virtually free of cost while not only waiving off premium to the tune of Rs.13.75 crores but also exempted from the annual lease rent of Rs.27 lakh, for the satellite campus of the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University, (MANUU), at Bhopal. Prior to this a few days back it appointed Anthony JC D’Sa, a Christian, as the Chief Secretary to the State government.

These gestures of the BJP government towards minorities, Muslims in the name of promoting Urdu, and appointing a Christian as Chief Secretary is being seen here by political observers to bring them closer to the party fold and put up a secular image before the state legislative assembly elections which are very close by and are due by November end this year. The decisions have been taken at the fag end of the BJP ministry tenure just before the model code of conduct comes into force once the schedule for elections is declared. The BJP is desperately trying to extend its lease and make a hat-trick by offering sops to many others to keep the faction-ridden Congress out of power for the consecutive third time.

Free land for Urdu varsity MANUU

It is after much dilly-dallying the State government waived off the premium but also exempted from annual lease rent. Now, only a token annual rent of Re. 1 per year would be payable on the 6.44 acres of plot allotted to MANUU’s satellite campus in Bhopal at Peepalner village about 12kms on the outskirts of the city. The decision to this effect was taken at the cabinet meeting of Madhya Pradesh Government chaired by the state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday last.

Madhya Pradesh Higher Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma after the cabinet clearance of land to MANUU Bhopal regional centre said: "Maulana Azad National Urdu University is a central university. We have cleared the proposal on receipt of their application for the purpose. The land allotment is cleared for the promotion of Urdu." He explained that since the state government had started Atal Bihari Hindi and Baudh universities land was allotted to them free of cost and now free land has been allotted to MANUU after receiving request from it, though no request for land was received from the Central government.

It may be pointed out here that while the Indira Gandhi National Open University and the School of Planning and Architecture were given land by the Madhya Pradesh government within five months of applying for it, it has taken seven years for MANUU to get the same. All three institutions come under the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.

It may be mentioned here that MANUU applied for land for its regional centre at Bhopal in 2008 and in 2010 after overcoming various procedural hurdles and roadblocks 6.44 acres of land was earmarked at Peepalner village on the outskirts of Bhopal. It took another two years when on October 30, 2012 this piece of land was allotted on the precondition that a sum of Rs.13.75 crore as premium and Rs.27.5 lakh as annual rent had to be deposited before taking over its possession.

With no funds allocated to MANUU for the purchase of land and a demand of an exorbitant premium and annual lease rent by the state government, it thereby applied for a waiver citing the examples of other Central institutions in the State namely IGNOU, School of Planning and Architecture, Sanskrit Vidya Sansthan.

Case of partiality and disparity

It may be noted here that it was a clear case of partiality and disparity, on one hand the State Govt. in allotting land free of cost to some institutions of the same ministry for same purpose while on other hand it was asking a very huge amount for a small piece of land (6.4 acres) from MANUU, only because of its beneficiaries being the most deprived minority i.e. Muslims.

Here it must be borne in mind that UGC (Union Grant Commission) had allocated Rs.120.55 crores to MANUU for the development of all its 13 satellite campuses across the country. If this amount is divided equally amongst the 13 campuses then each one of them would get less than Rs.10 crores. This amount alone would have been even less than the premium and the annual rent demanded by the state government. If the Urdu university had some how managed from its resources to fulfil the demand then it would have left with no funds for developing infra-structure for B.Ed. College, Polytechnic, ITI, model schools etc. for which the UGC had allocated the funds. At present the University has established a Regional Centre and B.Ed. College at Bhopal, which are being run from rented buildings for last so many years.

A section of the media, especially a vernacular daily and a leading national English daily, played a crucial role as they highlighted prominently the biased approach of the state BJP government in keeping in limbo for several years in allocating land to MANUU while granting land to other Central institutions in the state within months of their applications.

The real hero

However, the real hero in the saga of land allotment to MANUU is its Bhopal Regional Director Dr. Mohammad Ahsan, who ran from pillar to past along with his aides Dr. Mohammad Sadat Khan, Dr. Saheel Mohammad Khan and others, to get the work done. Dr. Ahsan and his aides made innumerable rounds of Vallabh Bhavan, the state secretariat, at each level in the process of allotment in last five years and many a times faced humiliation when Secretaries and Principal secretaries to the State Government refused to meet them after kept waiting for several hours.

The functionaries of MANUU lied low while keeping their ego buried fathom deep and bore the brunt of the bureaucracy as they strived relentlessly for a big cause so that the coming generations could benefit most. It is said that it was a bureaucratic ploy of levelling such high premium and annual rent to deprive MANUU of the required land so that no satellite campus could come up in Bhopal. It will not be out of context to state here that once even a top bureaucrat reportedly passed a sarcastic remark saying as to who invited you (MANUU) to Bhopal while he was handling the case of this land allotment. It is the political leadership which checkmated the bureaucracy, though to harvest political gains, and saved the day for MANUU campus at Bhopal.

MANUU Vice Chancellor Prof. Mohammad Miyan and its Bhopal Regional Director Dr. Mohammad Ahsan have thanked Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the state Revenue & Rehabilitation Minister Karan Singh Verma for allotting the land free of cost for promotion of Urdu language.

According to Dr. Ahsan when the Bhopal satellite campus starts working full-fledged then it would become the fourth satellite campus of the country. At present MANUU is running courses in ITI, Polytechnic, B.Ed. and M.Ed. and aims at opening schools and colleges for girls. While no fee is charged for its ITI and polytechnic courses, the MANUU charges only Rs.4,500/- as annual fee for the B.Ed. course. The MANUU was established in 1998 by an Act of Parliament, as a Central University with an All India jurisdiction. The mandate and objective of the University, as per the Act, is to provide higher, technical and vocational education through Urdu medium and to provide focus on women education, he added.

Christian Chief Secretary

Meanwhile, in a deft move a few days back the BJP Government announced the appointment of Additional Chief Secretary Anthony JC D’Sa, a Christian, as Chief Secretary in place of his predecessor R. Parashuram, who is retiring in an over a week’s time on September 30. This unpredictable step was taken by the government while superseding senior Additional Chief Secretary IS Dani, who is known for his RSS background. A leader of the RSS had lobbied in favour of Dani but that was not enough to neutralise the support of the bureaucrats given to D’sa, who is said to be close to the Union minister Kamal Nath. The bureaucrats did not want Dani to become chief secretary and that is why certain officers, who were close to chief minister, lobbied against Dani.

Dani, who is considered to be a stickler for rules, had not approved certain files coming from chief minister’s secretariat in the recent past. In several cases, Dani used to approve files coming from CM secretariat only after confirming about them from chief minister. This had made certain officers at CM secretariat, who are known to be powerful, annoyed. The outgoing chief secretary R. Parashuram was also said to be in favour of D’sa as his successor. This led to Dani not becoming chief secretary, although he was senior to D’sa. Not only this, Dani has been sent to Academy of Administration, known to be a loop line posting.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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