In the multi-pronged poll war now on in the holy city, two young Muslim girls have created a flutter. They have formed a women-only party claiming 35,000 members and support BJP’s Narendra Modi for PM, as they “believe in supporting someone who can bring development”.
Nazma Parveen, 27, and Nazneen Ansari, 25, floated Bharatiya Awam Party (BAP) in January 2013 to bring about a change in the male-dominated political system. “We received 50,000 membership forms but only 35,000 were made members while screening of the rest is on. Only those committed towards our vision can join us,” says party president Parveen.
“My party will contest the assembly polls in 2017 and we shall give 10% reservation to men while selecting candidates,” says the self-confessed follower of freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose.
Reservation to men apart, the party promises to improve the lot of women in Varanasi. “Women are the most vulnerable group in politics. Our members are Muslim women and each member is a voter whom we are empowering politically,” says Parveen.
At a recent function at Varanasi, BAP announced support to the BJP where Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary Indresh Kumar and Parveen shared the dais. Indresh said women should realise their power when it comes to voting.
As a majority of BAP members are employed in the Banarsi sari weaving industry, the party plans to narrate the success of Surat sari traders to woo voters in their election campaign that began Friday.
Parveen has done her math too. “To win elections in Varanasi you need around 2.5 lakh (of the total 16 lakh) votes and we plan to meet one lakh voters one-on-one and convince them to vote for Modiji. Each of our 35,000 members will now visit homes for the next 20 days,” says the post-graduate in conflict management from the Banaras Hindu University.
She, however, sees no ‘conflict’ in supporting Modi. “We condemn the (2002) riots but he is the only politician who can improve the lot of Muslim women here.”
What about the Congress or AAP? “All of us are aware what Arvind Kejriwal did in Delhi and how the economy has declined under the Congress. There is no question of supporting them.”
Earlier, Parveen was associated with Vishal Bharat Sansthan, a right-wing social organisation, while party’s general secretary Nazneen Ansari has been associated with Muslim Mahila Foundation. Both were working upon a political front for women for the last 10 years.
They claim their’s is the world’s first women’s political party aimed at rescuing Muslim women from the herd mentality where votes are dictated at the last moment. Change is, perhaps, already here.