Thiruvananthapuram, May 21 (PTI) Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Viajayan's decision to handle the important Minorities Welfare Department has evoked mixed reactions from the two key minority communities--Muslims and Christians--in the state.
According to the government notification allocating portfolios among ministers, the Chief Minister himself will handle the Minorities Welfare Department.
Vijayan will be the first Chief Minister to handle the portfolio since it was formed under the General Administration Department in 2008 during the then LDF government, headed by V S Achuthanandan.
While the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) welcomed allocation of the portfolio to the CM, various Muslim groups have launched a campaign against Vijayan through social media.
Addressing a press conference here on Friday, the Chief Minister justified the decision, saying the Muslim community has faith in him and his government.
He said everyone has supported his decision to handle the minority portfolio.
To a query on reported criticism by the Indian Union Muslim League against his decision, Vijayan said the portfolio allocation is not done by that party.
The League reportedly attacked Vijayan, saying he 'insulted' the Muslim community by taking back the portfolio after allocating it to another minister.
Earlier, it was reported that the portfolio would be allocated to a minister from the Muslim community.
Vijayan said Muslims are minorities in the state.
'Everyone knows that they have faith in me and the government. The Muslim League does not have sole authority over Muslims', he said.
The Chief Minister also dismissed the allegations that he took over the Minorities Welfare Department following the demand from the Christian community.
He said the decision to allocate the portfolio to the Chief Minister was taken following a general understanding reached during the discussion on allocation of portfolios among ministers.
Vijayan also said his colleague in the previous ministry, K T Jaleel, had efficiently handled the Minority Welfare Department.
Welcoming the CM's decision, the KCBC, an influential body of Catholic Bishops in the state, said a large section of the minority community had been demanding that the chief minister handle the portfolio.
'We welcome the decision of the chief minister', KCBC spokesman Fr Jacob Palackappilly said.
The Minorities Welfare Department is the nodal agency for implementing both central and state schemes and projects.
The Kerala State Minority Commission, Kerala State Minority Development Finance Corporation, Madrassa Teachers Welfare Fund, Coaching Centre for Minority Youth are the main functionaries of the department.
It also implements various projects and development programmes for the welfare of minority communities like Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis. PTI TGB APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR