18. BJP bid to win over Muslims
The Hindustan Times,
New Delhi, 16 August 1996
18. BJP bid to win over Muslims
From Gautam Chaudhuri
CALCUTTA, Aug. 15 - Desperately seeking ways to make inroads into the minority vote bank in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has set up a core group of six Muslim leaders, who have been asked to concentrate on the minority pockets in UP before the forthcoming Assembly elections, in order to woo the Muslims to give bigger support to the BJP.
The group will be led by the BJP minority panel president, Mr. Izaz Rezvi. Realising that without a convincing support from the minorities, which is now being monopolised by the Samajwadi Party and the Congress-Bahujan Samaj Party combine, it may not be a smooth sailing for the party in the UP Assembly poll, the group has been asked to hold regular interactions with the minorities to remove their misconceptions about the BJP.
While party stalwarts, led by the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, are now involved in attempts to win the confidence of the minorities, the core group of the minority panel has been asked to establish direct links with the rank and file in each minority pocket by paying regular visits to the Muslim-dominated areas before the poll.
At the same time, they would also make similar efforts to forge easy communication links with the minority mass in other parts of the country as well, though UP remains the first priority.
The focus of the campaign would be that the issue before the Muslims should not be Babri but of barabari (equality). Apart from encouraging debates and free exchange of views on the issue, the BJP also seeks to highlight the glorious role of the Muslims in the country’s Independence movement and subsequently during the Indo-Pak war, with the valiant Muslim freedom fighters and those who had laid down their lives for the country in the wars like Havildar Abdul Hamid to occupy the pride of place in this regard.1
Also to be brought in focus would be the contribution of the minorities to usher in speedy development in the country in all arenas. All these are meant only to reaffirm the party’s faith in minorities and vice-versa so that they do not remain isolated from the BJP in the coming days.
The issue has been accorded top priority because according to party calculations, even with the Opposition divided between the BSP-Congress combine and the Samajwadi Party-led United Front, the party does not feel entirely assured of a sweeping victory with its 33 per cent share of votes in UP.
It has also become very important in political terms because only a convincing win in UP Assembly elections is expected to pave the way for an early exit of the United Front Government at the Centre and realignment of political forces, with the BJP at the helm of affairs.
In the political resolution adopted at the recently-held national executive meeting of the BJP minority panel, the Congress and its ‘satellite parties’ like the Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal and the communist parties were held responsible for keeping alive the ‘poison of separatism’ in some sections of Muslims.
‘All Muslims and Hindus of India are Indians, their religions may be different, but their nation is one’, said the resolution. The panel upheld the BJP’s demand for a uniform civil code to strengthen the ‘Indianness’ of Hindus and Muslims in the country and setting aside the Article 370 of the Constitution.
The Indian National Congress had also invented heroes like Siraj-ud-Daulah and Mir Qasim of Bengal, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore, and Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal ‘emperor’. But this exercise in converting villains into heroes did not help in rallying Muslims round the Congress. Inventing history is not only morally wrong, but also self-defeating. Those who are out to deceive others end by deceiving themselves. ↩