The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would raise in parliament the issue of educational assistance to all poor students regardless of religion, said a leader of the party's Tamil Nadu unit on Saturday.
Tamil Nadu BJP president Pon Radhakrishnan is on fast for the past two days at Maraimalainagar near Chennai, demanding the extension of a scholarship scheme to all the poor students irrespective of their religion.
"BJP's Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj spoke to Radhakrishnan and others assembled at the fast venue over phone today (Saturday) and assured them that the issue would be taken up by the party in parliament," Vanathi Srinivasan, secretary of Tamil Nadu state BJP, told IANS.
According to Ms Srinivasan, the central and state governments were providing scholarship to religious minorities.
"Our demand is that the scheme should be extended to all the poor students irrespective of their religion. The current scheme has the potential to trigger conversions to avail of this benefit," she said.
According to Ms Srinivasan, the scholarship scheme implemented in 2008 (central assistance 75 per cent and state share 25 per cent) is attractive as it not only takes care of poor students' fees charged by the educational institutions but also provides a monthly assistance ranging between Rs.200 and Rs.3,000.
"The tuition fee is paid directly by the government to the educational institution and the monthly assistance is credited to the student's bank account," Ms Srinivasan added.
According to KT Raghavan, the BJP's Kanchipuram district president, there was a marked increase in the number of beneficiaries under the scholarship scheme in Tamil Nadu.
He said the state government had provided scholarships under the scheme to over 300,000 higher secondary students as against a target of 137,607 students for the academic year 2011-12.
"Over a period of time, poor people may be tempted to convert to some other religion to avail of the benefit for their children," he remarked.