The budgetary allocation for the Minority Welfare, Haj and Wakf Department in Karnataka has been reduced by almost 37 per cent in the State budget presented by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on March 5. The allotted amount for the department for 2020-21 is Rs.1,276.32 crore, which is Rs.744.09 crore less than what was allotted last year by the Congress and JD(S) coalition government. This reduction in allotment has also meant that 13 schemes have been done away with.
One of the reasons for this decline, say sources in the BJP government, is that only 65 per cent of the funds allocated were actually spent last year. But a delegation of MLAs from the minority communities who met the Chief Minister stated that the government displayed its partisan behavior and demanded that the schemes that were withdrawn should be reintroduced. The delegation which met the Chief Minister consisted of former Ministers K.J. George, Tanveer Sait and Zameer Ahmed Khan, apart from other legislators.
Funds for certain bodies such as the Karnataka Urdu Academy and the Haj Bhavan and for schemes such as new hostels and incentives for students of minority communities have been slashed. Besides, many of the schemes that had been launched by the Siddaramaiah government to help members of the minority communities have been done away with. These include the popular Bidaai scheme (Shadi Bhagya), under which Rs.50,000 would be paid to brides belonging to the minority communities whose annual income was less than Rs.1.5 lakh, the construction of Shadi Mahals (Marriage Halls) and specific funds under the skill development programme to benefit minorities. Scholarships for specific educational programmes in higher education have also been discontinued.
Muslims, who constitute 12.91 per cent of the population in the State, are the primary religious minority in Karnataka, followed by Christians (1.87 per cent) and Jains (0.72 per cent).