A meeting of the BJP and key members of pasmanda or backward Muslims will be held in Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow tomorrow, in possibly a first such formal sit-down in the state.
The meeting comes nearly four months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked his party, the BJP, to work for uplifting pasmanda Muslims in UP. PM Modi had reportedly made the request while addressing the BJP’s national executive meeting in Hyderabad in July.
The BJP’s pasmanda Muslim outreach also comes less than a month after its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s chief Mohan Bhagwat met with Muslim intellectuals, including former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi and former Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, to discuss sensitive issues such as the Varanasi’s Gyanvapi controversy, hate speeches, population control and the campus hijab row in Karnataka.
At the BJP’s Hyderabad event in July, Union Minister Swatantra Dev Singh mentioned the party’s win in UP’s Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha by-elections – constituencies that were considered to be strongholds of the Muslim-Yadav alliance of the Samajwadi Party – to prove a point about Muslim support for the BJP.
PM Modi had reminded party leaders about the BJP’s second consecutive victory in the UP assembly election under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and said all sections of society have benefitted from the work the BJP government has done in the last eight years.
Danish Azad Ansari, a young Muslim leader in UP, was appointed the Minister of State for Minority Welfare, Waqf and Haj after Yogi Adityanath won the state election for a second term. He is from the pasmanda Muslim community, a sizeable vote bank among Muslims in India’s most populous state, where the BJP has won big in the last two Lok Sabha elections but wants to do better in 2024 by cultivating new vote banks.
The effectiveness of the BJP’s outreach to connect with pasmanda Muslims in UP is yet to be tested. The ink is not dry on recent controversies involving top BJP leaders who called for the “total boycott” of a minority community, seemingly Muslims, and other hate speech incidents. The party would likely need to dispel concerns among pasmanda Muslims if it has to win their confidence.