Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has decided to keep the minority welfare portfolio with himself, a decision which was likely taken to reach out to the Christian community in the state, The New Indian Express has reported. Christian organisations in the state have been demanding that Vijayan handle the ministry himself.
“It was a long-pending demand of a major section among the minority communities that the chief minister should handle the minority welfare portfolio. We welcome the new decision and express our gratitude to the chief minister,” Kerala Catholics’ Bishops Council (KCBC) spokesperson Fr Jacob Palackapilly said.
Christian groups were not happy with the disbursal of minority welfare funds under KT Jaleel, the previous minority welfare minister in the state. However, Jaleel denied that there was any discrimination in fund allocation under his watch.
“The 80:20 ratio is followed only in state scholarships instituted on the basis of the Paloli committee recommendations to alleviate backwardness of the Muslim community. This is not applicable for any other schemes of the ministry or in the disbursal of Central funds meant for minority welfare,” he told TNIE.
It is also speculated that Vijayan’s move is to thwart BJP’s outreach towards the Christian community. State BJP President P S Sreedharan Pillai had helped organise a meeting between Prime Minister Modi and the head of three prominent Church groups ahead of the elections.
That does not appear to have had any significant impact as the BJP failed to win any seat in the state. However, it appears to have been enough for Pinarayi Vijayan to take effective measures to ward off any threat.
BJP General Secretary in the state, George Kurian, has said, “A mere change of guard does not mean the LDF’s policy towards minorities, especially Christians, has changed. The 80:20 ratio in distribution of welfare funds among Muslim and Christian communities should first be amended.”
Meanwhile, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) has claimed that Vijayan’s decision has insulted the Muslim community. Earlier, it was believed that the portfolio would go to V Abdurahiman.