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New Delhi: Najma Heptulla, who took charge as the Minorities Affairs Minister on Tuesday, took potshots at the Congress party as she claimed that it was the grand old party which promised reservation for the Muslims and not the BJP.

Najma Heptulla

 

74-year-old Heptulla, who is the oldest minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet, added that reservation was not a solution to the problems of Muslims but an ‘escape route’.

Heptulla said the new government will ensure progress of all communities, with special stress on education facilities for minorities.

She also claimed that the Muslims are no more a minority and more focus should be paid on the dwindling numbers of the Parsi community.

    
“We never promised reservation for Muslims. It was the Congress which did that. It is no solution to development concerns of Muslims, but an escape route and what about others (minority communities)?” Heptulla asked.
    
“We believe in seeking out a solution through constitutional framework as it does not allow reservation on the basis of religion. We would like to work so that everybody gets a level playing ground,” she added.

"We want to work for economic, social development and inclusive development (of minorities). Unless they don't become a part the part of development process, there will be lopsided development," Heptulla said.
    
When asked about the steps that she plans to take for welfare of Muslims, Heptulla said, "Why only Muslims? This is not a Ministry for Muslims affairs, but Ministry of Minority Affairs.”
    
"Muslims are not a minority. In fact, the Parsis are a minority and their number is dwindling. They need help so that do not diminish,” she added.
    
According to 2001 census, there are 138 million Muslims in the country who account for 13.4 percent of the population

When asked whether the new government would implement recommendations of the Sachar Committee, she said that it was "not necessary" to implement all the recommendations.
    
Heptulla, grand-niece of freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, added that she will set "priorities" after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
    
"It is important to bring in development through education and there is a need to develop the educational institutions of minorities," she said.

(JPN/Agencies)

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