Dubbing the Union Budget "exclusionary", Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged on Friday that the minorities have been "brutally discriminated" against in the allocations and that many view it as part of a series of Islamophobic policy decisions by the government.
Concluding a discussion on the budget in Lok Sabha, Chowdhury also asked the government to answer questions raised in the US-based short seller Hindenburg Research's report on billionaire Gautam Adani's companies that triggered an unprecedented stock crash.
He reiterated the Opposition's demand for a joint parliamentary committee probe or a Supreme Court-monitored investigation into the matter.
Chowdhury alleged that the Union Budget for 2023-24 was nothing but "skewed numbers" and had neglected regions such as Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.
He claimed that the budget had failed to cater to vulnerable sections of society, including women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities.
"The agriculture sector has been ignored and the health sector has been neglected," he said.
Chowdhury also quoted former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's remarks that the budget was a silent strike on the poor.
"Muslims have a 15 per cent share in the population but in this budget, along with the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, they have been brutally discriminated against," he said.
Taking a dig at the government's motto of "sabka saath-sabka vikas-sabka vishwas-sabka prayaas", Chowdhury said he wanted to add to the slogan -- "Humare acche din chale gaye vanvaas (our good days have been sent on exile)".
He pointed out that the budgetary allocation for the Minority Affairs Ministry has been reduced by over 38 per cent to Rs 3,097.60 crore for 2023-24 as compared with the last fiscal. The budget allocation for 2022-23 was Rs 5,020.50 for the ministry, however the revised estimate was Rs 2,612.66 crore, as per documents, he noted.
"Minority groups have expressed concern about the budget slash and many view it as another in a series of Islamophobic policy decisions that victimise already marginalised minority communities," Chowdhury alleged.
"There are several things happening against Muslims in the country. The state I come from (i.e. West Bengal) has the maximum number of Muslims after Uttar Pradesh. When steps should be taken for their upliftment, I don't know why the government targets them like this," the Congress leader said.
Hitting out at the government, Chowdhury said it seems to be unaware of the kind of contribution Muslims have made to the country.
Recalling the role of Muslim freedom fighters and leaders, Chowdhury accused the government of "distorting" history and presenting it in a manner that creates "unprecedented hate" in people's minds.
"Look at the hate being spread, cow has become Hindu and goat Muslim. What you are doing to the minorities is saddening," he claimed.
Educational schemes for minorities have been reduced reflecting a "continuous attack" on minority rights and "systematic discrimination".
"The central government also cancelled scholarships for minority students from classes 1 to 8 and the Maulana Azad National Fellowship. This will have a qualitative impact on their education. This kind of exclusionary budget should be done away with," he said.
Raising the Adani-Hindenburg issue, Chowdhury said that as representatives of common people, they want to know to what extent will they be affected in the wake of the revelations of the research firm.
There are allegations that "risky" transactions were made involving SBI and LIC in the Adani Group, he alleged.
How can investors have confidence when such things are happening, he said.
"We have been demanding JPC or a SC-monitored probe. If nothing else you have ED, you can get an inquiry done," he added.
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