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Off campus centre only if AMU offers something new, says Maharashtra minister
Wednesday January 28, 2015 0:00 AM, Staff Reporter

Making it clear yet again what the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Maharashtra has in store for over 10 million Muslims in the state, Higher & Technical Education Minister Vinod Tawde a few days ago hinted that establishing the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) off campus centre is not in the government's agenda.

[Hundreds of girl-students had taken part in a post-card campaign to urge then AMU VC Prof PK Abdul Aziz to establish the AMU centre in Malegaon. ( photo)]

The erstwhile UPA government had allocated funds after the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) decided to setup its off campus centers in five states of the country including Maharashtra.

"What's use of inviting a university in the state if it doesn't have anything new to offer? We already have enough and much better institutions in the state", highly placed sources quoted Vinod Tawde as saying.

Tawde made the above statement in reply to a question by a senior journalist who wanted to know from the minister the stand of the Devendra Fadnavis government vis-à-vis establishment of the AMU off campus centre in the state.

Established in 1920, the AMU is a Central University and enjoys the status of being one among the top universities in India.

In order to provide higher and technical education to the Muslim community, supposed to be miserably lagging behind on the socio-economic and education ladder, the Manmohan Singh government had allowed the AMU to establish its centers in five Muslim dominated districts.

The BJP had made clear its opposition to the proposal ever since it was made public. Hence it did not surprise anyone when Madhya Pradesh, which is ruled by the BJP, out-rightly rejected the proposal and declined to provide the land in Bhopal as requested by the AMU.

Kerala, West Bengal and Bihar on the other hand provided the needed land, and the AMU centers in these states are running successfully.

The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra however sat on the proposal despite the identification and physical verification of a suitable land by the AMU team in October 2011 in Malegaon – the Muslim dominated town in North Maharashtra.

The state government led by then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, it was learnt, had planned the foundation stone ceremony of the AMU off campus centre few months before the last assembly election. It however had a last minute change of mind and did not go ahead as per the expected plan.

The Muslims in Maharashtra did not have any expectation from the BJP after it came to power in the state. But, they had a feeling that the BJP will try to correct its anti-Muslim stance following prime minister Modi's 'Sab ka saath.. Sab ka vikaas' slogan, and after Eknath Khadse, in his first official briefing after becoming Minister of Minority Affairs, said the state government will take necessary actions for the empowerment of the Muslims.

Their anticipation however proved short-lived as the BJP in the most bizarre manner approved legislation for Maratha reservation while rejecting to extend the same for the Muslim community.

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