At PM's NIC meet on communal violence, states showcase their Muslim sops

ASeveral Chief Ministers of states were absent from the NIC meet, taking off the shine from the event

With elections around the corner, the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting Monday became the platform for regional 'secular' parties in power in several states to tom tom their bouquet of sops for Muslims.

Mamata Banerjee won the contest, including in her presentation a full list of the benefits the Trinamool Congress government has granted Muslims, who make up around 30 per cent of West Bengal's voters. Her government is opening English medium madrasas and giving bicycles to Muslim girls of Classes IX to XII. It is erecting boundary walls at over 575 Muslim graveyards, and will open a "Minority Bhawan" in each district. This is in addition to declaring 49 Muslim communities as "more backward", giving them more jobs and other benefits.

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Bengal's speech, said to have been drafted by Mamata herself, was delivered by her Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who said that "economic empowerment" was the key to communal harmony. "I am proud to say that this (harmony) has been achieved due to the endeavours of our government," he said.

Bihar's Nitish Kumar described how his government is giving back properties to victims of the Bhagalpur riots of 1989. "The government of Bihar has conducted two rounds of special coaching for minority youths to enable them to compete for posts of police constables," he said.

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Bihar was building hostels for Muslims, giving them cheaper loans, monetarily supporting divorced or deserted Muslim women, and had granted Rs 10,000 each to 29,000 Muslim students who got first division marks in their Class X exams, Nitish said. Bihar's cash scholarships to Muslims was more effective that central scholarships, he claimed. In an apparent dig at the BJP, the Bihar CM termed as "unwarranted" the naming of processions as "yatra" and "parikrama". He mentioned riot victims are given lifelong pensions.

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