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How BJP Plans to Woo Muslims Without Playing Vote Bank Politics

Sumit Pande | CNN-News18

Updated: April 21, 2017, 9:23 PM IST
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How BJP Plans to Woo Muslims Without Playing Vote Bank Politics
Prime Minister Modi said the lower sections among the Muslims must benefit under the larger umbrella of social justice.

New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will soon be making its first determined pitch to woo a section of the minority votes- a constituency which it is often accused of ignoring both in electoral politics and otherwise.

Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at the Bhubaneswar national executive last week, the ministry of minority affairs is planning to hold a nationwide campaign on the proposed National Commission for Backward Classes or NCBC Bill.

The Ministry in the coming months will organise more than a hundred conclaves across country to 'impress upon and educate' the backward among the minorities on the benefits of the proposed bill aimed at providing constitutional status to the Backward Classes Commission.

Modi, in his intervention in Bhubaneswar, had stressed that the bill's passage would help backward communities across religious lines.

"Naming the well-off communities, like Sayyads and Pathans which dominate the political leadership, Prime Minister said the lower sections among the Muslims must benefit under the larger umbrella of social justice," said a BJP leader present at the conclave.

"There are castes which are considered backward both among Hindus and Muslims. And Muslim backward castes in the OBC lists are entitled to all the benefits including quotas in jobs and education. But because of lack of awareness, only a few communities avail these benefits," says Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, whose ministry will be organising these events especially in district with high minority population.

The final grand conclave is being planned for Delhi later, where the ministry is planning to invite PM Modi as the chief guest.

There are more than three dozen socially and educationally backward castes among Muslims listed in central and state lists of the OBC. Roughly, these communities together constitute more than half of the total Muslim voters.

The BJP has in the last three decades created for itself a distinct identity as the bearer of the Hindutva plank while accusing its adversaries of 'minority appeasement' and 'pseudo secularism' for vote bank politics.

A party which now aspires to rule from 'panchayat to Parliament', a chunk of the minority votes would do no harm. Especially if the community constitutes almost a fifth of the total national population. But the challenge really is to reach out to the minorities without being seen to be indulging in the same 'vote bank politics' which BJP has opposed all these years.

The NCBC and the concomitant political campaign, however, provides a larger canvas to the BJP to tap a sizable segment of the minorities without being seen to be overtly doing so.

First Published: April 21, 2017, 6:48 PM IST
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