Lucknow, Dec 10 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav Monday stressed the need for education of girls as he launched at Rampur town the "Hamari Beti, Uska Kal" scheme, which entails aid of Rs.30,000 for marriage or further education of girls studying up to Class 10.
The move drew criticism from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which slammed the state government for launching the "community specific" scheme and accused it of indulging in minority vote bank politics. Rampur is about 300 km from Lucknow.
Girls whose parents have an annual income of Rs.36,000 are eligible for the scheme.
Distributing the cheques to beneficiaries from Moradabad division at the Mohammad Ali Jauhar University campus, Akhilesh Yadav pointed out that the scheme was the brainchild of Urban Development Minister Azam Khan, who had also coined its name.
As many as 14,000 girls were benefiting from the scheme, he added and assured that in future, all deserving girls would benefit from the scheme across the state.
On the occasion, Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav approved proposals for a guest house, beautification of the lake in the university campus and 26 roads as well as inaugurated the Rafeeq-Ul-Mulk Mulayam Singh Yadav faculty of Humanities.
However, as the chief minister was distrubuting cheques at the campus, hundreds of girls, a majority of them Muslims, protested the criterion of selection and tried to meet the chief minister but were stopped by the large police posse at the function site.
BJP spokesman Vijay Pathak, meanwhile, said he was aghast to see full page advertisements in all newspapers about the scheme and questioned the scheme being titled 'Hamari Beti, Uska Kal'.
"What is the message that this government is trying to send? Are only Muslim girls there and what about the other communities and castes?" he said, adding that the BJP would take up the matter seriously.