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BJP, Opposition spar over govt panel report on rise in Muslim population by 43.15 per cent

The BJP expressed concern over the pace of increase in Muslim population and wondered its impact on the reservation provided to SCs, STs and OBCs.

Screenshot 2024 05 10 084933NEW DELHI: A government panel report on the rise in the Muslim population in the country kicked up a political slugfest on Thursday with the ruling BJP targeting the Congress on its pitch for giving reservation to the minority community and the opposition accusing the saffron party of trying to create a communal divide amid ongoing parliamentary elections.

This came after a recent working paper by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) said the share of the Hindu population decreased by 7.82 per cent between 1950 and 2015 in India, while that of Muslims increased by 43.15 per cent, suggesting that there is a conducive environment in the country to foster diversity.

The paper titled ‘Share of Religious Minorities: A Cross-Country Analysis (1950-2015)’ further said the share of Jains in the population of India decreased from 0.45 per cent in 1950 to 0.36 per cent in 2015.

Latching on to the report, the BJP expressed concern over the pace of increase in Muslim population in the country and wondered its impact on the reservation provided to SCs, STs and OBCs, claiming the Congress is “hell bent” on providing quota to the minority community if voted to power.

“If you see the 1951 census, Hindus were having 88 per cent population and Muslims 9.5 per cent. In the 2011 census, Hindus (population) reduced to 79.8 percent from 80 percent while Muslims’ percentage went up by more than 14.5,” BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi told PTI, when asked for comment.

“But, the question arises that if by this pace the population is increasing and Congress is hell bent upon giving reservation to the Muslims on the basis of population, they will cut the share of the SCs, STs and the OBCs,” he added.

Trivedi said the Congress, if voted to power, will then keep on “changing” the share of reservation in future with increase in the Muslim population, “which is more likely because they (Muslims) are having possibility of multiple marriages”.

Muslims share in the reservation will keep on increasing also because of “conversion and infiltration because they are having a secular cover from them (the Congress)”, he claimed.

Hitting back, the opposition leaders accused the BJP of trying to create communal divide over the report amid ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

CPI general secretary D Raja and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav slammed the Union government for not conducting the census, and called the working paper by the EAC-PM an attempt to get votes by creating strife.

“Why has the PM’s economic advisory council come out with this report at a time when the country is going for elections?” he asked.

“The prime minister is already trying to polarise people in the name of Muslims, talking about handing over keys of Ram Mandir to Muslims. He is taking up all such issues. That means there is an attempt to polarise people by bringing out such data. People should be cautious of such reports,” Raja alleged.

Slamming the BJP over the report, Yadav said, “The census that was to happen in 2020-21 has not been done till now, it’s 2024.”

“Their (BJP) aim is only to mislead the people of the country and to spread hatred. This is the agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP. They have fooled people of this country for ten years, and they want to do that again,” the RJD leader charged.

Samajwadi Party MP ST Hassan also flayed the BJP over the report and said its a conspiracy to create hatred and polarise the voters.

“It’s election time. Any report can come. Modi ji is rattled,” he told PTI.

Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the EAC-PM’s report raises many questions because one particular community is “increasing its population in a manner where demography of India is being altered, changed”.

“How much of this growth in Muslim community (population) is being caused by illegal immigration and conversion?. What will be the consequence when you have the Muslim community increasing its population so rapidly, from 9 per cent to 14.5 per cent and there are political forces that want to give them reservation?” he asked.

Union minister Giriraj Singh alleged that Hindu population in the country has gone down due to the Congress’ politics of appeasement.

“Hindu population is decreasing, Muslim population is increasing. It shows that in the days to come, they want to make India an Islamic state,” he charged.

Amid debate over EAC-PM’s report, Population Foundation of India, a non-government organisation, said the population growth rates are not linked to religion and the total fertility rate (TFR) among all religious groups is declining, with the highest decrease observed among Muslims.

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