Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday criticised the Narendra Modi government over a report by The Economic Times, which said that the scholarships of 60 lakh school students from the Scheduled Caste community is pending across more than 14 states as the Centre has stopped providing the necessary funds for the scheme.

“In BJP/RSS vision of India, Adivasis and Dalits should not have access to education,” Gandhi tweeted. “Stopping scholarships for SC-ST students is their way of ends justifying their means.”

According to the report carried by the Economic Times on November 26, over 60 lakh senior school students of Class 11 and Class 12 from the Scheduled Caste categories are facing a financial burden, as the Centre stopped funding their portion of the All India Post Matric Scholarship Scheme as per the 2017 formula.

The scholarship programme for the Scheduled Caste students gives a financial assistance of about Rs 18,000 per annum at post matriculation/post secondary stage to help them complete their education.

Originally, expense for the scheme was borne jointly by states and the Centre. But since 2017, the central government has been providing only 10% of the amount under “committed liability”. As a result, various state governments began to discontinue the scheme or are running it in very limited scale. Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttarakhand are among the states that are the facing problems.

“Committed liability” is the expenditure mandated for states and the Union Territories to be incurred for the Five Year Plan period per year under Centrally Sponsored Schemes of Scholarships, against which further funding from the Centre is facilitated.

The report added that the scholarship matter has been pending before the Union Cabinet for over a year and was discussed in detail by the Prime Minister’s Office, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in early November.