Bhopal: A couple of office-bearers of the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s minority cell have resigned over the last few days after the senior leadership allegedly turned a blind eye to their concerns over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and proposed implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
In the wake of nationwide protests, the saffron camp has launched an outreach campaign to dispel the ‘misunderstandings’ over the legislation. However, it seems to have ignored the simmering discontent from within.
Over the past few weeks, several Muslim faces of the BJP have quit the party expressing strong resentment over the amended Citizenship Act and NRC.
Days after office-bearers put in their papers in districts like Khandwa and Khargone, the party leadership expelled state spokesperson of the minority cell Javed Baig.
Baig told News18 that when some party members had convened a meeting to discuss urgent concerns over the CAA and NRC and invited senior functionaries, including national head of the morcha, Rasheed Ansari, state head Sannawwar Patel and district head Md Ajaz, none of them turned up.
Instead, Patel called him up and said that Baig is breaching party guidelines in social media posts and hence, the party has decided to expel him, he said.
“For years, we have been disciplined workers of the BJP and toed the party line on issues like triple talaq and Babri Masjid-Ram temple,” he said, adding that he had only shared posts on police excesses on students in Jamia Milia Islamia and Jawaharal Nehru University in the national capital, and other campuses. “Is it a crime?” he said.
Adil Khan, the morcha’s vice president, said, “The CAA is wrong. The Act already granted citizenship to refugees. Why was it reshaped on religious lines?”
“If you are saying that minorities are persecuted in India’s neighbourhood, how do we say that minorities aren't harassed in our own country, especially in the light of mob lynching and other such incidents,” said the young politician.
“The CAA and NRC are not against Muslims alone. They are anti-poor in general,” said Khan, who is yet to resign from the morcha. However, he added that over 50 office-bearers have already resigned in Bhopal, some of whom have been with the saffron camp for the last 15-20 years.
One of them, Syed Umar, who was the minority cell’s state secretary before quitting, said leaders like him are branded ‘BJP ke dalal (BJP’s agents)’ within their own community after the contentious legislation was passed by the Union government led by Narendra Modi in Parliament.
He said, “Though the legislation is in accordance with the Constitution, we are unable to address the concerns of own community which is feeling betrayed.”
“More than the legislation, we were hurt by our own party leaders and workers who were posting objectionable comments about our community ever since the new law was passed, said Akram Khan, a senior office-bearer who resigned recently as state secretary.
“We can’t face out own community on CAA and NRC. Hence, 173 functionaries and 500 workers resigned from the morcha on January 9,” Tasleem Khan, the Khargone district head of minority cell, told News18. “Leaders like me had associated ourselves to BJP to serve our own community, but what is the point in continuing when a ‘draconian law’ like CAA has been passed by the same party,” he added.
“We have been ignoring objectionable remarks from party seniors as personal remarks, but now this has gone beyond our toleration,” he said. Several party members are also said to have resigned in Harda and Dewas.
However, the cell’s district head in Bhopal, Md Ajaz, said that only a handful of office-bearers have called it quits and names of small-level functionaries and even fake names have been included in the resignation letters. He also called the leaders opportunists for walking out of the party after it lost power in the state. “We only need to reach out to our community to create awareness,” he said.
Speaking to News18, the cell’s state president Sannawwar Patel rejected reports of mass resignations and said he has only received three letter, including one from Khandwa and two from Bhopal.
“The CAA and NRC have nothing against anyone and we (BJP) need to make people understand this,” he added.
When asked about Baig’s expulsion, party state head Rakesh Singh said on Sunday the move was taken in view of Baig’s anti-party activities. “The party doesn’t need workers who stand with anti-nationals and oppose decisions favouring the country’s interests.”