The recent appointment of Tariq Mansoor, Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, as a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council has increased the number of Muslim members in the BJP to four, which is currently the highest among all parties in the state including the Samajwadi Party (which has 2 MLCs).
Mansoor, a Pasmanda leader, was nominated to the Legislative Council, resulting in his resignation as V-C. This move was part of an effort to incorporate influential voices from within the community.
Members of the BJP in the council also include Danish Azad Ansari, a Pasmanda and a state minister, and Bukkal Nawab and Mohsin Raza, both of whom belong to the Shia Muslim sect known for their lesser hostility towards the BJP.
UP has six Muslim MLCs and 31 MLAs (down from 33 after Azam Khan and his son Abdullah Azam were disqualified), out of a population believed to be around 20 per cent Muslim.
A senior BJP functionary said, “By nominating a Muslim from a prestigious institution like AMU, the BJP is trying to convince Muslims that it wants to take them along, and wants their support in the service of the nation. The party is preparing the ground for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. In the coming days, it may also give tickets to some Muslims in urban local body polls.”
Bukkal Nawab, a former Samajwadi Party MLC, resigned in July 2017 following the BJP's ascension to power in the state. In 2018, the BJP nominated both Nawab and Mohsin Raza to the Legislative Council. This marked the party's first representation of Muslims in the Upper House in nine years, since the passing of Sheema Rizvi, who was also a Shia, in 2009.
Nawab and Raza's terms end next year.
Last year, Ansari was nominated to the Upper House.
The BJP can add two members to the Legislative Council, bringing their count to 80 of the 100-member Upper House.
“We have opted to send Muslims to the Legislative Council as our Muslim candidates have failed to win in Assembly polls,” a BJP leader admitted.
During the 2012 Assembly polls, the BJP selected Shakeel Alam Saifi for the Sahaswan constituency in Badaun district; however, he managed to secure only 1 per cent of the votes, finishing in sixth place.
In 2002, Mohammad Gaffar Khan was the party's lone Muslim candidate for Tilhar, but he lost the election. Khan also ran for office in 1996, serving as the BJP's only Muslim candidate, but he encountered another defeat. Furthermore, Khan's vote share decreased by 50 per cent in 2002 in comparison to 1996 (8.75 per cent of the votes).
The BJP's Muslim candidate for Mau in 1991 and 1993 was Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. Despite losing by a mere 133 votes in 1991, the BJP won the state with 221 seats, riding on the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
“The defeat of Muslim candidates under the Lotus symbol in Assembly polls indicates the party lost the community’s trust after the Ram Janmabhoomi episode. To rebuild that, the BJP has taken the Legislative Council route,” a BJP leader said.
The state BJP's minority wing held meetings with Pasmanda intellectuals in Lucknow and Rampur last year. Their outreach efforts were credited in part for the victory in the Rampur bypoll.
The Pasmanda outreach initiative was launched after PM Modi's call to the party to aid disadvantaged sections in all communities. According to the UP BJP, around 4.5 crore Muslims have received benefits through government schemes under the Modi-Yogi administration.
UP BJP's minority wing is planning to focus on 44,000 polling booths across the state that have Pasmanda presence.
Kunwar Basit Ali, BJP minority wing state president, stated that the nomination of a Muslim by the party depicts its commitment to Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, by giving representation to all communities.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!