BJP fields a Muslim from Faizabad-Ayodhya
The BJP has settled for Zeeshan Mehndi, its district minority cell chief from Faizabad, as its lone minority representative from the Ram Prasad Bismil ward – one of the 45 wards in Faizabad against Ayodhya’s 15.Updated: Nov 20, 2017 16:20 IST
The BJP has fielded a Muslim candidate from the twin temple towns Faizabad-Ayodhya – elevated by Chief minister Yogi Adityanath into a municipal corporation.
The BJP has settled for Zeeshan Mehndi, its district minority cell chief from Faizabad, as its lone minority representative from the Ram Prasad Bismil ward – one of the 45 wards in Faizabad against Ayodhya’s 15.
While a lone Muslim candidate from the 60 wards of Faizabad-Ayodhya doesn’t mean much numerically, it’s the symbolic takeaway that the BJP appears to be playing on through the move that experts say also fits in well with the party’s ‘sabka-saath-sabka-vikas’ tagline.
It was the Ayodhya temple movement of the 90s that originally powered BJP’s rise and the party continues to acknowledge this.
More than two decades later, BJP’s first UP chief minister in 15 years - Yogi Adityanath - chose Ayodhya to launch the civic poll campaign.
Mehndi represents the 8% Shias who have largely supported BJP’s move to ban the instant divorce practice of ‘triple talaq’.
Wasim Rizvi, the chief of the Shia Wakf Board, has unequivocally supported a temple in Ayodhya and said he favoured a mosque outside the temple town – a line that has made the Vishva Hindu Parishad happy.
“We are not against all Muslims. We are only against anti-nationals,” said VHP’s Ayodhya-based spokesman Sharad Sharma, hinting that even the staunch Hindu bodies like VHP may not have a problem with the BJP move.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and then again in the 2017 UP polls, the BJP had been criticised for not fielding a single Muslim candidate.
“It’s good publicity for us,” a BJP leader said on being asked about the decision to field Muslims on party ticket in UP civic polls in general and from the temple town of Ayodhya in particular.
First Published: Nov 20, 2017 16:20 IST