NEW DELHI: Rejecting the charges levelled by BJP-ruled states that the 11th plan focused on minorities, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said there was no attempt to divide people on caste and religion and the focus remained on the most marginalised sections of the society.
"The goal of this plan is to invest in our people to enable them to become active participants in economic growth processes. The plan does not attempt to divide people on the basis of caste, creed or gender or religion," he said just before the National Development Council approved the 11th Five Year Plan document.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had alleged that the Centre had resorted to "communal budgeting" and demanded that there be a review of the Prime Minister’s 15-point agenda for minorities. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had echoed the sentiment.
The Prime Minister said that it was, however, a reality that there are certain social groups who are relatively badly placed on all developmental indicators. The plan does pay special attention on the needs of these marginalised groups and targets them in a precise manner.
"Inclusiveness does mean better targeting and it is not at the cost of other groups. You will all agree that if we hope to have a prosperous, equitable, just India, we must cover all groups and ensure that no one is left behind," he said.
Earlier, opposing "communal budgeting", BJP’s Modi sought a review of the programme that stipulates earmarking 15 per cent of targets under various schemes for minorities.
He said the 15-point programme that focuses on earmarking certain outlays of developmental schemes among the eligible beneficiaries, based on their minority status, should be reviewed for maintaining the social fabric of the nation.
Later, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the allocation of funds for minorities in the 11th plan was part of government’s commitment toward inclusive and equitable growth.
"It is an unfortunate reality that our society is socially fragmented and the minorities along with other groups have not benefited adequately from many of our development schemes," Ahulwalia said while reacting to Modi’s criticism.
He said inclusive growth and social harmony could not be achieved if minorities remained excluded. "It is for this reason that the plan contains specific proposals to ensure an equitable flow of benefits to the minorities who are different in different states," he said.
Ahluwalia pointed out that the Plan proposals were based on Prime Minister’s 15-Point Programme for Minorities, and focused on "ensuring adequate access to essential services in various forums of livelihood support".
Government would focus on districts where there is high concentration of minorities. However, the programmes in these districts would not involve discrimination in favour of minorities as such, he said.
"The services provided will be available to all persons in these districts. Where the programme are in-principle individual beneficiary-oriented, the eligibility criterion remains BPL (below poverty line)," he said. var RN = new String (Math.random()); var RNS = RN.substring (2,11); var b2 = ‘‘; if (doweshowbellyad==1) bellyad.innerHTML = b2;