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BJP’s Muslim candidates in Bengal civic polls facing the question ‘why BJP’

The 10 Muslim candidates the party has fielded are highlighting the development work of the Narendra Modi government.

cities Updated: May 17, 2017 16:41 IST
In ward 7 of Domkal municipality where Sabina Bibi (in green sari) is the BJP candidate only, 100 voters out of a total 4,500 are Hindus.
In ward 7 of Domkal municipality where Sabina Bibi (in green sari) is the BJP candidate only, 100 voters out of a total 4,500 are Hindus.(HT Photo)

In the electoral fields of Bengal they are a specially stressed lot. For, they are facing questions not only about their party but also about why they have joined BJP. They are the Muslim candidates that a resurgent BJP has fielded in Bengal civic polls.

A total of 10 Muslim candidates are contesting on BJP tickets. The party has fielded seven minority candidates in the first civic body election of Domkal in Murshidabad district and three in Pujali civic body in South 24 Parganas. The civic bodies are going to the polls on May 14.

Read: MCD results: All five of BJP’s Muslim candidates lose despite ‘saffron wave’ in Delhi

BJP leaders said they fielded Muslim candidates – a few of them are women – as a deliberate strategy to send the message that they are not a party only for the Hindus, but follow an inclusive philosophy.

Rima Khatun Bibi (in pink dupatta), a BJP candidate ward 19 of Domkal, blamed Trinamool leaders for carrying out a campaign to create confusion among the voters. (HT Photo)

“When my name was declared as the BJP candidate, Trinamool workers raised objection. They were creating obstruction and started asking how could I, a Muslim woman, dare to contest on the ticket of a hindutwawadi party,” said Sagara Bibi, the BJP woman candidate from ward 7 of Domkal.

Bibi told HT that there are only 100-odd Hindu voters in her ward out of a total of 4,500 voters. With much effort I have been able to convince most of my voters that BJP isn’t a party only for the Hindus. “I am telling how BJP will change the whole area if we win the elections. A good number of Muslim voters are also interested to be the part of Modiji’s developmental works,” she added.

Domkal civic body has been created out of some gram panchayats and still retains the rustic character. As much as 91% of the voters of this newly formed municipality are Muslims.

Read: BJP’s got a Muslim woman candidate too!

“Out of 1,834 voters in my area only 134 persons are Hindus. I am facing questions on the ‘crackdown’ on cow slaughter. I am telling voters that BJP governments are closing only the illegal slaughter houses with an eye to shoring up tax collection. BJP has no plan to interfere with the food habit of anyone,” said Sabir Hossain, the party’s candidate from ward 15 of Pujali.

Ajijul Haque Mondal, the BJP candidate from Domkal’s ward 21 told HT, “There are only 700-odd Hindus among 4,300 voters in this ward. I have faced the question many times why I am contesting as a BJP candidate. Trinamool leaders are spreading the remours.”

BJP’s Murshidabad district general secretary Subhas Mondal said that their candidates are moving from door-to-door, trying to build relations with the people that also leads to close interactions and frank discussions. “We are getting unexpected response from the voters,” Mondal claimed.

Read: BJP candidate for Kerala Lok Sabha bypoll promises quality beef if elected

The BJP candidate from ward 6 of Pujali civic body Sabina Bibi claimed that she is constantly barraged by the question why she is contesting in favour of a party that swears by Hindutva. “I am telling people that the growth of the BJP across the country would not have been possible riding only on Muslim votes. Now most of the states are enjoying the developments of Modi government. I am telling the voters to vote for BJP candidates if they want the same development here,” said Sabina Bibi.

Political observers think that despite the limited scope of a few civic polls, BJP has ventured inside some remote villages of a few districts, and they have a warm up before the 2018 rural elections in the state. In Murshidabad, BJP has only four councilors in the seven municipalities in Murshidabad district.

Aroj Khan, Domkal’s BJP candidate from ward no 15 is telling the voters “A party can never be Hindu. The country has a Constitution and Modiji is bound to follow it.”

In the 21-ward civic body of Domkal, BJP has fielded candidates in 20 wards.

Other BJP candidates such as Matiur Islam and Sadek Ali Mondal are all constantly tormented by the question “Why BJP?”