It’s the petty politics of appeasement yet again coming to fore in Rajasthan as the Madrasa Board has been given the legal recognition by the Congress government while the Gaushala grant has been trimmed in the state. To add more to the woes, the much-awaited Vedic Education Board announced by the state government has been delayed till date, and the ambitious project is yet to see the light of the day.
With all these developments, the Muslim community seems happy-going in the state while the Hindus here are feeling depressed and oppressed with the autocratic decisions of the state government. A few months back, the Hindu community was quite happy after the Congress government announced the formation of the Vedic Education Board in the state, thinking that a meaningful initiative has been taken under the Congress tenure in the state. However, the wait went endless, and till date, there is no official announcement of any such board.
Meanwhile, the Rajasthan government gave legal status to the madrasa board. Going further, on October 16, it further announced to bear a total of 90% of the cost being incurred in the development of madrasa, while the madrasa board will be incurring the remaining 10% of the expense. An outlay of Rs 15-25 lakh per madrassa has been earmarked by the state government; confirmed officials were adding that “The Rajasthan government asked the state-wide madrasas to file an application from October 14-29 in order to receive grants for their infrastructural development.”
It needs to be mentioned here that the modernisation of madrassas was also mentioned in the Rajasthan government’s Budget 2019. The item number 116 of the Ashok Gehlot government’s Budget 2019 mentioned “Chief Minister’s Madrasa up-gradation scheme”, and about Rs. 7 crore were allocated by the government for the same. It, indirectly, shows the government’s intention of giving madrasa boards a free hand in the state, said sources.
Officials said that Rs 9,000 crore grant for 3240 madrasas was stopped by the central government earlier, leaving them on the verge of closure. However, the state government came up to aid them and hence allocated Rs 188 lakh to them. A total of 2 lakh students are studying in these madrasas.
Meanwhile, former MLA Gyandev Ahuja said, “We have demanded that the Tablighi Jamaat and madrasas should be banned in the state as their education goes against national sentiments. However, the state government started funding them from going against our demands. Also, it gave them equal status as that of the education board which surprises us,” he added.
While the Muslim community is celebrating the state government’s decision in the state, the gaushala owners, on the other hand, are decrying the amendment in the Rajasthan Stamp Act, 1998 due to which the surcharge meant for cow welfare will now be used to contain drought, flood and public health exigencies, besides catering to cow welfare.
The state government a few months back in May promulgated the Rajasthan Stamp (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 to amend the Rajasthan Stamp Act, 1998. The Section 3-B of the Act with the phrase “surcharge for conservation and propagation of cow and its progeny”, was added with an ordinance “and for mitigating natural or man-made calamities”.
Subsequently, on August 21, the Congress government introduced the Rajasthan Stamp (Amendment) Bill, 2020 aiming at widening the use of the surcharge to “provide immediate relief to people suffering from the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 in the form of food, shelter, transportation and health services and also having in mind the future need of resources for emergent situations.
The Bill was passed by the assembly on August 24.
The gaushala owners in the state are tensed and aggrieved on the decision and are awaiting revoking the amendments in pandemic times, It needs to be mentioned here that the surcharge for cow welfare was introduced by the previous Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government in 2016.
During Vasundhara Raje’s last tenure, Rajasthan became the only Indian state to have a dedicated ministry for cow welfare whose first minister was Otaram Dewasi. In 2018, the Vasundhara Raje government imposed 20 per cent cess on sale of liquor for the protection of cows. With amendments in cow-related laws, the different gaushala associations in the state have decided to raise their voice against this injustice in one way or the other. While some have decided to write letters to the state government, the others have decided to stage dharna in all assembly areas on September 21.
During Vasundhara Raje’s last tenure, Rajasthan became the only Indian state to have a dedicated ministry for cow welfare whose first minister was Otaram Dewasi. In 2018, the Vasundhara Raje government imposed 20 per cent cess on sale of liquor for the protection of cows
After that, a strategy shall be chalked out to start a movement against this autocratic decision which poses a threat to cow welfare in the state.
The Congress government’s move to divert funds dedicated for cow welfare to fight calamities is drawing strong criticism from the various dals of Rajasthan. Head of the Rajasthan Cow Welfare Committee Dinesh Giri termed the legislation as gau-droh (betrayal of cows) and said that as a result of the Bill, cows in the state would starve to death.
Now, all eyes are set as to where does the Gehlot government go next—towards appeasement or to look into the needs of Hindu community people who are also awaiting a significant help from government amid pandemic times when their incomes have also been trimmed.