India: Singh's Focus on Muslims Stirs Controversy

December 13, 2006

Author: Prakash Chand Dubey

Source: Oh My News

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent remark that Muslims must be given top priority within the development matrix of the country has whipped up fierce controversy in the country. Pro-Hindu parties have accused Singh of indulging in wooing Muslim voters toward his party, the Indian National Congress, which is headed by Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The pro-Hindu groups' accusation subsequently whetted a rebuttal from the office of the prime minister, which contended that the his remark had been misquoted as Singh had actually stated that all marginalized and deprived members of society, including Dalits and Muslims, must be given priority in the developmental resources of the country.

However, Singh's reported statement, though rebutted later, has prodded even Christians to solicit an equitable share.

Leaders of the All India Catholic Union (AICU) hailed Singh's recent statement about giving priority to the development of Muslims in the country, who were certainly among those at the periphery of economic development.

At the same time, they implored Singh to also bring Christians within the development matrix, who have by and large also remained poor and underdeveloped, stressing that the development process should not remain confined to just the political and numerical minorities. Muslims number 140 million and constitute some 14 percent of India's total population of one billion.