Fear was spread ahead of the general elections last year that "minorities, especially Muslims, would be killed and mistreated if the BJP-led NDA comes to power" but, after a year of the Narendra Modi Government, this has been proved false, said Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla.
"Muslims and other minorities are on the path of development and peace," she said.
In an interview to IANS on the occasion of the Modi Government completing one year in office, the minister said the opposition’s "false campaign" had an effect, but it did not last long and withered away.
"They (the opposition) said there would be communal riots and the ministry of minority affairs would be dissolved," she said, adding that what happened instead was "just the opposite".
"Nothing which the opposition was alleging happened and the minorities have realised that the National Democratic Alliance Government was for all," Heptulla said.
She cited examples like the case in Saudi Arabia where 40 Muslims from Bihar were arrested and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and others from the Modi Government ensured their safe release, and the rescue operations in war-torn Yemen.
Heptulla told IANS that the government’s efforts in handling these situations made people realise that "the Modi Government was not against minorities; it was, in fact, for them".
On being asked how, she as minority affairs minister, plans to set right the government’s image which took a hit after incidents of attacks on churches across the country, she said that "it was the duty of the head of the government".
"Head of the government has to give them the confidence… and the prime minister has done it by assuring them that no wrongdoer would be spared," the minister said.
"He (Modi) has done it on various occasions, once on August 15 while addressing the country from the Red Fort, in the Lok Sabha and on various occasions… even internationally also, making it clear that the constitution was the most sacred book (on the basis of which the government would function)," she said.
Listing what the Modi Government had done in the past one year for minorities, the minister said six points of the government’s plan for minorities, which were promised before general elections, were being implemented.
These include that youth, girls in particular, get education and jobs without discrimination; strengthening and modernisation of minority educational systems and institutions and others were being implemented sincerely and girls were being encouraged by giving them scholarships, she said.
All six minorities – Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Parsi and Buddhists – are being supported fully in whatever way the government could help them, she said.
The minister said the prime minister’s initiatives of Jan Dhan Yojna, Learn and Earn and other schemes were inter-linked and fulfilled the government’s larger goal of ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas’.