UP’s 15% strike rate & BJP’s big Pasmanda Muslims bet

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, July 29: Former Aligarh Muslim University vice chancellor Tariq Manoor became the second vice president of the Bharatiya Janata Party from the minority community as the saffron outfit makes pitch for foray into the Pasmanda vote base. The BJP had tasted huge success with the party dabbling into the minority politics in the recently held local body elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP had fielded as many as 395 candidates for the local body elections. The saffron outfit was positively surprised as the party saw a 15 per cent strike rate in the outcome of the polls. The BJP had fielded the Muslim candidates in the minority dominated constituencies.

The BJP’s success was attributed to the party’s growing acceptance among the Pasmanda Muslims. Buoyed over by the success in the UP experiments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been regularly making outreach to the community, which claims to have been unfairly treated by the “upper caste” Muslims (sections who claim to not have been converted from the Hindus in India).

The political observers note that even while the politics of secularism had seen the Muslims at the centre stage of the national politics for several decades the political representations were largely confined to the “upper caste” Muslims. The BJP seeks to exploit the grievances of the Pasmanda Muslims, those claiming to be backward within the minority community.

As many as 61 candidates of the BJP from the Pasmanda Muslim community had won the elections for Zila Parishad, Municipal corporations recently in Uttar Pradesh, which translated to a strike rate of 15 per cent. The BJP has also been drafting in Muslim intellectuals from the Pasmanda community into the legislative council of UP.

By making a Pasmanda pitch, the BJP is clearly seeking to defang the tactical Muslim voting, which was seen in Karnataka recently. The BJP will be seeking to make a bold Pasmanda pitch in UP and Bihar, as well as test electoral waters in other states also.

The BJP’s hopes of making inroads into the Muslim vote base had also soared after the saffron outfit wrested the Rampur Assembly seat. Azam Khan, the Muslim face of the Samajwadi Party, had been known to hold his sway on Rampur seat. Also, a BJP-supported candidate won the Suar Assembly bypoll, which also had a Muslim majority population.

Along with the enactment of the law against the practice of triple talaq, instant divorce, the BJP’s Pasmanda outreach is seen to be growing bid to carve out a new electoral constituency.    

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