In what looks like the ruling party's relentless and desperate attempt to get rid of the Hindutva tag internationally — with nobody globally getting impressed by it apparently — the BJP’s minority wing is organising a meeting of 'intellectuals' of the community in Lucknow tomorrow. The party is branding the event as the first such programme for Pasmanda Muslims by a political party in the country. "Pasmanda" is how Muslims whose forefathers had converted from lower castes of Hinduism fashion themselves as, much as Islam claims it has no caste system.
Three months ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged the party to reach out to “the deprived and downtrodden” sections among all communities at the BJP national executive in Hyderabad, seen as an outreach to the Pasmanda (backward class) Muslims.
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak will be the chief guest at the meeting, named Pasmanda Buddhijeevi Sammelan, which will be attended also by a minister of state in the Uttar Pradesh government, Danish Azad Ansari. He is the only Muslim minister in the BJP state government and a so-called Pasmanda.
BJP minority wing national general secretary Sabir Ali, who will be the main speaker, will focus on the prime minister’s “vision”. The party expects over a thousand 'intellectuals' from among Pasmanda Muslims to attend.
Ghulam Ali Khatana, the newly nominated Rajya Sabha MP from Jammu and Kashmir and BJP leader from the Gujjar Muslim community, will be among those to be 'honoured' at the meeting. An under-represented group settled in some of the most inhospitable areas of Jammu and Kashmir, it also has a significant population in western Uttar Pradesh and in Amethi and Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituencies in central Uttar Pradesh.
“The BJP will address the intellectuals on how over 4.5 crore people from the community have benefited under various government schemes rolled out by the Modi-led Union government and the Yogi Adityanath government in the state. This event will be a major platform for dialogue with the community,” Kunwar Basit Ali, the state president of the Uttar Pradesh BJP minority wing, said, adding that the meeting tomorrow will be the first of many of the type the BJP has planned.
Ali said that more than 3 crore Pasmanda Muslims in Uttar Pradesh have got free rations, more than 1.25 lakh have got benefits of the Ayushman health card, 75 lakh have benefited from PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi, more than 40 lakh have got free electricity connections, 20 lakh have got houses, etc.
Muslim leaders will be asked to share the problems faced by their people, despite the schemes, at the events. Ali said: “We will deliberate how to bring Pasmanda Muslims close to the BJP ahead of the urban local body elections and the Lok Sabha polls. The party will also give tickets to people from the community in the urban local body polls.” The elections to the urban local bodies are likely by the end of this year.
BJP trying to woo away Muslims from SP, BSP
The BJP minority wing in Uttar Pradesh has identified over 44,000 polling booths across the state with a significant population of Pasamanda Muslims and will focus here. The target is to speak to at least a hundred beneficiaries from the Pasmanda Muslim community in each such booth.
The beneficiaries of its government schemes have been identified by the BJP as a loyal vote bank. This came true for the party in the recent assembly elections. Another leader said there was no reason why the same should not apply in the case of Muslims. “With welfare schemes, the BJP has successfully created a separate section of beneficiaries within the Muslims. No person in society is untouchable for the BJP and every section has got the benefit of government schemes without any discrimination. Ahead of the local body and Lok Sabha elections, the party plans to convert these beneficiaries into voters for the BJP,” the leader said.
The BJP’s push to wean away Pasmanda Muslims, who constitute an overwhelming 85% majority among the Muslims, is being seen politically as a challenge to coincide with both the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party that were once alternately enjoying power in the state due to Muslim support.
According to a so-called deprived Muslim leader, many castes have been identified as part of the Islamic communities, which are socially, educationally and economically backward compared to the rest. These include Ansari, Mansoori, Kasgar, Raeen, Gujar, Ghosi, Qureshi, Idrisi, Naik, Faqeer, Saifi, Alvi and Salmani, among others.
The image on top is an archived photo