No place for minorities in BJP, says expelled Muslim leader from Assam
From being a prominent Muslim face of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam to getting expelled from the party for flouting its line on the issue of Rohingya Muslims - Benazir Arfan has seen it all in the past seven days.
The state executive member of the saffron party’s ‘mazdoor morcha’ or workers’ wing was expelled from the BJP on Monday, five days after she uploaded a post on social media voicing support for Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar.
“I was suspended from the party on Thursday and expelled four days later. The action was taken without giving me a hearing and the decision was conveyed through WhatsApp,” Arfan told the Hindustan Times.
A civil engineer who quit her job to join the BJP in 2015, the 30-year-old triple ‘talaq’ victim was a well-known face of the party and also contested last year’s assembly polls from the Jania seat in Barpeta district.
Last week, she posted a message on Facebook urging people to attend a prayer meeting in Guwahati for Rohingya refugees. The post didn’t go down well in some circles of the BJP as the saffron party’s governments in Centre and Assam are against allowing Rohingyas entry into India or providing them with a refugee status.
Arfan was suspended from the party for raising the issue on social media without taking any approval of the party and asked to reply to a show cause notice within three days on why disciplinary action should not be taken against her.
“I replied to the notice but a disciplinary action committee of the party expelled me indefinitely without giving me a hearing. No party leader called me or sought my views,” she said.
In the expulsion letter issued on Monday evening, state unit general secretary Dilip Saikia alleged Arfan had sullied the BJP’s image several times by indulging in anti-party activities.
“Based on recommendations of the disciplinary committee, state unit president Ranjit Das has removed you from the primary membership of the party with immediate effect,” the letter that was sent to her on WhatsApp stated.
Arfan believes there is more to her expulsion than meets the eye. She said her troubles started after she complained about a particular woman, allegedly close to senior leaders, bagging several organisational posts.
“While the party took action against me, they didn’t do anything to another woman member who organised the prayer meeting for Rohingyas. Women in the BJP are expected to remain silent and serve tea during meetings. It troubles the hierarchy if we raise issues,” she said.
“The party is also doing lip service in the name of being there for minorities. They are not serious about our issues and no genuine leader from the community is allowed to rise,” Arfan added.