By Santosh Kumar Pathak
New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been working on the agenda of ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ since 2014 but getting the support of the Muslims has been an elusive goal even now, as it was for the BJP’s predecessor, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, earlier.
Keeping this in mind, the BJP is trying to dispel its “hardline right wing” image to woo all sections of society.
There was a time when the BJP used to think that it would not get Muslim votes but now the party has started gaining the minority community’s confidence, say party leaders.
Talking to IANS, Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is one of the party’s top Muslim leaders, said that the BJP makes constant efforts to win the trust of minority community and working for them to get their votes, but the party does not believe in making deals for votes.
Citing several welfare schemes, including Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Saubhagya Yojana, toilets, Ujjwala Yojana, food grains, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had recently told the Legislative Council that though Muslim population in the state is 17 to 19 per cent, it is bagging benefits of 30 to 35 per cent from these schemes.
On the BJP’s image and development works of the government, Naqvi said that some people take secularism as a “political facility”, but for the saffron party, it has been a constitutional commitment.
In seven and a half years of the Modi government and even during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, one cannot cry discrimination in the matter of development, he said, adding that “we are on the path of universal empowerment and the party and government follows it too”.
On the BJP’s challenges in attracting support of Muslims, Naqvi said that the party is also well aware of this, so instead of running a big campaign to woo the community, it is making contact at personal level.
Talking to IANS, BJP Minority Morcha national President Jamal Siddiqui said that the Morcha has prepared a list of booths, where more than 70 per cent of voters are Muslims, in all the states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, and Goa – going to polls.
In these booths, party’s Muslim activists will go and spread awareness about welfare schemes run by the state and Central government and their achievements.
Siddiqui claimed that parties like the Congress, the SP, and the BSP “sell lies” to Muslims, but now the saffron party would reach out to the minority community and expose their lies.
For the upcoming Assembly polls, Siddiqui said the party is aiming to add 100 such people to each constituency who are either not very active now or are not directly associated with the party.
On the BJP being blamed for not giving ticket to Muslim candidates, Siddiqui said under a campaign, the Morcha has asked people to come forward to contest polls.
“If you can bloom a lotus on a Muslim majority seat, then you are also welcome to contest elections,” Siddiqui said, adding that Morcha is also instructing its Muslim workers and leaders to prepare for contesting elections.
It will be too early to say whether the BJP will succeed in winning Muslim votes or not, but it is determined not leave the field open for the opposition.