M A I N   N E W S

Antulay uses pundits to expand empire
Swati Chaturvedi

New Delhi, March 30
Mr A R Antulay, Union minister for Minority Affairs, in his latest quest for empire building has now decided to use the Kashmiri pundits. Officially describing them as a “minority in need of aid’’ he has asked the Department of Personnel to allot him funds for their succor.

In a letter to Mr Suresh Pachouri, minister incharge of the DOPT, he has underlined their plight and minority status and asked for allotment of more funds for his ministry and a building close to South Block so that he can alleviate their plight.

An official spokesman of the DOPT confirmed to the Tribune, that they had received Mr Antulay’s letter and that his demands were under consideration.

A senior minister said: “With the Muslim head-count issue, the change in the status of the Aligarh Muslim university and the setting up of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, we are just giving ammunition to the BJP on their charge that we are playing vote bank politics. Clearly this is being done with an eye on the UP elections. But, it is a sensitive issue. Should we be so callous?’’

With the exodus of the Pundits from Jammu and Kashmir thousands have been languishing in relief camps with no official attention to their plight. With more funds and an official minority tag for them what the new ministry will be able to achieve is debatable. The minority tag that Mr Antulay is brandishing around may prove to be a major embarrassment for the government says a senior minister who has been part of the fire-fighting on the sensitive issue of the Muslim head-count in the Army.

Mr Antulay has returned to the government after a gap of 20 years and the DOPT has received a series of missives from him asking for more funds and office space. Nothing less than an office in the Raisina Hill complex which houses North block and South block will satisfy him. He has repeatedly asked for more staff and wants at least three secretary-level officials to report to him.

Mr Antulay has even complaint to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, that these efforts for minority welfare were being hampered by the government with Mr Arjun Singh, Union Minister for Human Resource Development blocking the transfer of crucial departments to him.

— The writer is an anchor with Janmat TV who writes regularly for The Tribune.


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