The much longed political change has happened in West Bengal and the new government has also spent more than half of its tenure at office comfortably. The minorities, especially the Muslims of West Bengal havehad high hopes from the Mamata Banerjee Government whom they had so genuinely voted to power expecting it to be the messiah who could rescue them from their age old sufferings of isolation, backwardness and under development. The primary reason understood by the community being the lack of government support policy, indifference towards the community, ghetoism and the suspicion of their loyalty.
But now things are in black and white. They posed faith on the Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress, voted them in bulk and still have faith that the party would also consider them genuine citizens to be taken care of.
It is now the turn of the government to pay back or else it would be obvious that the community has once again been cheated and the government is just the other side of the same coin that has always neglected Indian minorities.
Before elections in the State Assembly in 2011, the then Chief Minister aspirant Mamata Banerjee had on different occasions talked about the distress and plight of the Muslims. She had not hesitated in declaring various plans to eradicate poverty of the community in day to day life. It may be recalled that while interacting with the Muslim intelligentsia on November 3, 2009 at Rotary Sadan hosted by an Urdu daily Newspaper, she had then asserted that she would go a long way in helping the Muslims if the Muslims of the State take a step forward implying if they posed faith on her and voted for her. And the community did rely on her intentions giving if not more eighty percent of their votes to Trinamool Congress that comfortably unseated the thirty five year old Left front government.
Immediately after formation of government the new Chief Minster announced that the recommendations made by the Sachchar Committee would be implemented in no time. The Muslim population constitutes the largest minority community in West Bengal comprising nearly twenty-six percent of the population in the state of West Bengal but in so far as government jobs are concerned their share is less than two percent and in private sectors it is even worse. There is no denying the fact that economic empowerment of Muslims is possible only if they are provided with jobs in public and private sectors.
Muslims need proportionate representation particularly in Government employments for their survival and development. Economic empowerment of the Muslims in the state can be partially achieved through reservations only. And Government has to look for ways to accommodate all citizens equally.
In education the Muslims students in West Bengal happen to be more than 25% of the total students taking Secondary School Examination Board whereas representation of Muslim students in higher education is abysmally low constituting only 0.5% of the total students. It goes on to demonstrate that Muslim students require more impetus in the form of reservations in the matter of admission in higher and professional education. In the matter of admission in English medium and Government run schools in Kolkata and its suburbs and also in the district towns, it is to be ensured that Muslim students living within the areas of two kilometers radius should be given preference.
The housing problem being faced by the Muslims of this state, especially in urban areas is well known. The areas, where Muslims reside are congested, dirty and lacking basic and civic amenities. Therefore the living conditions by providing reasonable amenities call for immediate interventions. More over in Government Housing a system has to be evolved so that the minorities too, get in accommodation. In housing projects of the Government including Rajarhat/New Town separate lands and buildings have to be earmarked for the minority community. Their situation will not change and they will be miles away from mainstream if these steps are immediately not considered.
The ball is in the court of the West Bengal Government. Muslims did vote diligently for ages altogether to the Left front Government because of the notion that they did not discriminate on grounds of religion. Until it was realized that only because of religious identity, the Muslims remained languishing in poverty.
Now it is the time to prove that the community is rewarded for the favor they gave to the Mamata Banerjee Government. And as time clicks it is better to start action than to be late forever.