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Sena to oppose plan to reserve Mhada flats for minorities

Sena to oppose plan to reserve Mhada flats for minorities

Author: S Balakrishnan
Publication: The Times of India
Date: July 5 2008

The Shiv Sena has decided to legally challenge the Democratic Front's decision to reserve Mumbai Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) flats for minorities.

While announcing the decision recently, chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said the Mhada has been asked to amend its rules so that flats can be reserved for Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis. At present, flats are reserved only for certain sections of the society, such as journalists and people belonging to scheduled castes and tribes. An official in Mantralaya said some of the reservations, like the one for 1971 war veterans, will be scrapped as they have become redundant.

The Mhada now plans to build 16,000 flats across the city and members of the minority communities can benefit from the new policy. However, Subhash Desai from the Sena said accommodations cannot be reserved on the basis of religion. "This is for the first time that such a reservation is being made and the Shiv Sena will oppose it tooth and nail. After studying the proposal, we will challenge it in the court through public interest litigation,'' he said. He alleged that the decision has been taken as a part of the "Congress policy of appeasing Muslims and other sections''.

Even some members of the minority community seem to be sceptical about the decision. Farid Batatawala, president of the Muslim Front, said, "Deshmukh's announcement should be taken with a large pinch of salt. He had not kept any of his earlier promises made for the welfare of the Muslims. This includes the non-implementation of the Justice Srikrishna Commission, which probed the 1992-93 Mumbai riots, failure to investigate the killing of Parbhani youth Khwaja Yunus and delay in making appointments to the Wakf board.''

President of the Ulema Council Maulana Mehmood Daryabadi said the decision was taken with an eye on the coming elections. "These days, several announcements are being made to woo the Muslims. This time around, we have decided not to react unless these promises are actually fulfilled. We will not be carried away by mere announcements,'' he added.

State BJP president Nitin Gadkari alleged that Deshmukh was "playing vote bank politics''. Reservation should be based only on the economic criteria and not on religion.

- balakrishnan.s@timesgroup.com

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