New Delhi: Union Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla on Tuesday said that instilling a sense of security and confidence among the minorities has been the biggest achievement of her ministry.
"If you ask, I would say confidence-building has been my biggest achievement. It took a lot of effort and hard work," Heptulla said while addressing a press conference here on the completion of two years of the Narendra Modi government.
"Muslims in many states are no longer opposing the BJP, as is evident in Assam, as they realise that our government is working for their welfare," she said.
Asked if the "confidence-building" among Muslims by her ministry has contributed to the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) win in Assam, she said it was a "collective effort" of which she was a part.
"It was a team work and a collective effort. I wouldn't say it was just because of me. But I wouldn't say either that my ministry or I made no contribution," Heptulla said.
Accusing the former Congress government in Assam of "inaction", she said that her ministry had released Rs.128 crore to Assam's state minority affairs ministry for it to spend on various programmes, but the state failed to utilise the funds.
"When I asked them what they did with the funds, neither the state minority affairs minister nor the officials present could come up with a satisfying response," she said.
Heptulla also highlighted the work done under various schemes of her ministry such as Nai Manzil, Ustaad, Seekho Aur Kamao and Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills (MANAS) among others.
"In the last financial year of 2015-16, our ministry's expenditure was more than 20 percent higher than in 2013-14, which is a significant rise in just two years," she said.
"Notably in 2015-16, for the first time in the history of the ministry, there was no cut imposed in the earmarked plan budget at Revised Estimate (RE) stage and it was maintained at the original level of Rs.3712.78 crore. We spent about 98 percent of the entire plan budget that year," the minister added.
She said that the government has increased the plan budget of the ministry to Rs.3,800 crore for the financial year 2016-17, an increase of more than Rs.168 crore over the 2015-16 expenditure level.