The ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has enlisted over 25,000 Muslim community leaders to help promote their message and support Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Nafis Ansari, a Muslim school principal from Madhya Pradesh, is one of these “Modi Mitrs” who actively promotes the party’s welfare policies and India’s global standing under Modi’s leadership. The BJP seeks community leaders from various backgrounds who can objectively assess Modi’s performance. The party aims to win over underprivileged Muslim voters, including women, in 65 key seats by highlighting their economic record and plans for religion-agnostic laws on inheritance and gender rights.
While the specifics of the BJP’s Muslim outreach strategy have not been previously reported, this campaign is part of a larger effort to engage India’s 200 million Muslims, despite the BJP and Modi’s complicated history with the community. Critics accuse some BJP members and affiliates of promoting anti-Islamic hate speech and engaging in violent vigilantism. They also claim that non-profit organizations run by other religions have been targeted with regulatory action, and Muslim-owned properties have been demolished. However, Modi denies the existence of religious discrimination in India, attributing the violence between Muslims and the Hindu majority to deep-rooted tensions that are exploited by political rivals.
In conclusion, the BJP’s enlistment of Muslim community leaders aims to win over Muslim voters by emphasizing their economic record and plans for religion-agnostic laws. While the party faces allegations of anti-Muslim sentiment, it denies religious discrimination and attributes the violence to long-standing tensions.The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India is currently leading in the polls, but there are concerns among party leaders due to a newly unified opposition alliance and a recent loss in a key state election. Analysts and opposition leaders believe that there is a potential anti-incumbent vote and that the BJP has maximized support in its Hindu nationalist base.
The party’s Muslim outreach is a significant aspect of their campaign. Siddiqui, a member of the party, emphasizes the importance of recognition and friendship between different communities. The BJP’s website criticizes secularism in India, stating that it has become “minority appeasement” at the expense of the majority. Some analysts argue that the party has exploited divisions between Hindus and Muslims to such an extent that there is not a single Muslim minister in Modi’s cabinet.
While the BJP has sought Muslim support in previous regional elections, this national campaign is the first and most widespread of its kind. The party aims to increase its share of the Muslim vote from 9% in the past two national elections to between 16% and 17% next year. They are focusing on 65 seats in the lower house of parliament that have a significant Muslim voter population, which is double their share of the national population. However, specific details about the targeted seats have not been disclosed.
The BJP’s outreach program, called Modi Mitr, focuses on spreading the party’s economic message to marginalized members of the Muslim community, known as “Pasmanda” Muslims. Ansari, a Pasmanda member, engages with Muslim friends and neighbors to discuss the BJP’s welfare schemes, such as a monthly handout for underprivileged women and a housing subsidy. The message is that these schemes benefit everyone, including Muslims.
Ujir Hossain, a Modi Mitr businessman, also promotes an economy-focused message when interacting with his Muslim neighbor’s grocery shop. He believes that there is a significant difference between Modi’s accomplishments and those of the previous center-left government. Hossain encourages Muslims to at least listen to what the BJP has to offer.
However, critics argue that the BJP has historically marginalized and ignored the concerns of this section of society. K.C. Venugopal, a senior lawmaker from the opposition Congress party, accuses the BJP of not respecting and addressing the concerns of marginalized communities. He believes that elections should be fought on economic and development issues rather than religion and identity.
BJP leaders, such as Islam, a former head of Deutsche Bank in India, defend the party’s approach. They argue that the opposition’s allegations of minority appeasement are unfounded and that the BJP’s focus is on economic and development issues.
In summary, the BJP is leading in the polls but faces challenges from a unified opposition alliance and recent electoral losses. The party is making efforts to reach out to the Muslim community and increase its share of the Muslim vote. Their outreach program focuses on spreading the party’s economic message and highlighting welfare schemes that benefit all, including Muslims. Critics argue that the BJP has marginalized certain sections of society, while BJP leaders defend their approach and emphasize the importance of economic and development issues in elections.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been accused of neglecting the welfare of Muslims and taking their votes for granted. However, some Muslim women support the BJP’s pledge to reform personal laws, as they believe it will address discriminatory practices. Amana Begam Ansari, a female Pasmanda writer and political analyst, acknowledges the government’s willingness to reform personal laws, despite criticizing the BJP on other issues.
While violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims have decreased since the BJP came to power, tensions still remain high. The BJP has used its enforcement powers to prevent inter-communal tensions from escalating into violence, as it is concerned about its law-and-order message and India’s international reputation. However, many Muslims still live in fear of Hindu activists who are emboldened by the BJP’s politics of cultural nationalism, which some consider a euphemism for Hindu supremacy.
Opposition leaders and analysts believe that the BJP is likely to gain support from Muslims in the upcoming elections unless the opposition counters its influence. The BJP has a dual strategy of demonizing Muslims for its hardline base while also trying to win over sections of the Muslim population, particularly women and Pasmandas. Ghanshyam Tiwari, spokesperson of the opposition Samajwadi Party, acknowledges that the BJP’s position as the ruling party gives it the ability to implement policies that may appeal to some Muslims. However, he believes that the BJP’s core approach remains anti-Muslim and anti-minority.
Some individuals, like Modi Mitr educator Ansari, believe that the BJP should control extremist activists who tarnish its image. Despite acknowledging the presence of extremists everywhere, Ansari still supports the party. Overall, the BJP’s relationship with the Muslim community remains complex, with both positive and negative aspects.
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