Demanding a special IIT and a medical college for minorities just a month ahead of Lok Sabha elections, the minority cell of Mumbai Congress has asked Sonia Gandhi to plan "bigger things" instead of "minor deeds" for the betterment of the children of minorities. Gandhi has been requested to grant the permission of these institutions "at the earliest".
The letter was shot off to the Congress high command on February 28 by Nizamuddin Rayeen, chairman of minority cell of Mumbai regional congress committee.
"It would be a homage to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad if the permission to establish both an IIT and a medical college is granted…you are requested to kindly grant these requests so that we can go to minorities with the right attitude that we not only look for their uplift through minor deeds but plan bigger things for their children's future."
The letter also requests to grant the permission "at the earliest" referring birth anniversary of Maulana Azad on the March 22 and also that he, as an education minister, set up the first world-class technical centre — IIT Kharakpur — with his vision.
The letter also claims that the minority department is ready to foot the cost of the land and all equipment needed to run and establish these centres.
While content and timing of the letter suggest that the move is for the electoral gains, Rayeen refutes the allegation. "The demand has no link with the vote-bank politics." He claimed and added: "Minority communities are mainly poor and hence their children can't afford to study in elite institutions. The government offers free education to Dalits but not to economically backward minorities. If we will have IIT and medical colleges for minorities, at least 50% seats would be guaranteed to them."
However, the rivals feel otherwise. MNS leader and MLA Nitin Sardesai said, "We are against any kind of reservation based on caste or religion. So we never support such move unless it provides privilege to the financially backward people."
BJP leader Shaina NC termed the Congress move as appeasement policy. "What were they (Congress) doing till now? Congress ruled the country for 60 years and couldn't do anything for minorities except for vote bank politics. Demand for IIT and medical college just before the election is another proof of their opportunism", she said.