'Marriage dole to all religious minorities'

 Minister for Minorities Welfare Qamar-ul-Islam on Friday announced that the Bidaai scheme, popularly known as `Shaadi Bhagya’ scheme, which aims to provide financial benefit to brides from poor Muslim families will be extended to all other religious minorities.

The minister told presspersons here that he has spoken to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on the matter and the chief minister has given consent to extend the scheme to all the religious minorities.

The scheme will be extended to poor women from other religious minorities such as Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and Parsis and the conditions for getting the financial benefit will be same for all. The bride should have crossed the age of 18 and the groom 21 and, the annual income of the woman seeking the benefit should be less than Rs 1.5 lakh.  A budgetary allocation of Rs five crore has been made for the scheme and if the needed, it would be increased, the minister said.

Islam said that each district has been given a target in proportion to the population of the respective minorities as per the 2011 census. Though it was planned to limit the scheme to 1,000 persons every year, now it may be increased after extending the scheme it to all the religious minorities, he added.

The minister, however, tried to justify the scheme which is currently meant only for poor Muslim women saying that they don’t fit  into the existing schemes such as Thali Bhagya.

He said that he was not communalising the scheme but sought to help unmarried women from poor Muslim families as well as divorcees and widows intending to marry again. He made it clear that the financial benefit of Rs 50,000 would be a one-time assistance.

He accused the former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa of politicising the issue in the wake of the ensuing elections to the Lok Sabha. “Had there been any misgivings, Yeddyurappa could have spoken to me or any representative of the government instead of making it an issue and resorting to dharna,” Islam said.

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