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Now Uma, Naqvi lament not giving tickets to Muslims

Before 2012, the last Muslim candidate who had contested on a BJP ticket was in 2002.

lucknow Updated: Feb 28, 2017 14:46 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Lucknow, Hindustan Times
Muslim candidates,Bharatiya Janata Party,Uttar Pradesh assembly elections 2017
BJP leader Uma Bharti(HT File Photo)

Rumana Siddiqui, 45, who till recently was BJP’s minority wing chief in Uttar Pradesh, was among the 40-odd minority community members expecting a BJP ticket for 2017 UP polls.

Siddiqui, who claims that under her watch the party’s minority membership in UP swelled to a record 2 lakh, had sought a ticket from Sahaswan assembly segment of Muslim-dominated Badaun. This is the seat from where BJP had fielded Alam Saifi, its lone Muslim candidate, in 2012 UP polls.

Saifi lost his deposit from the seat where BJP has now fielded west UP strongman DP Yadav’s nephew Jitendra.

“Yes, I was hopeful but the party must have considered winnability of candidates before taking a decision,” says Siddiqui even as many BJP leaders have now begun to question why the party couldn’t find even a single candidate from among the minorities.

Before 2012, the last Muslim candidate who had contested on a BJP ticket was in 2002.

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Party MP Vinay Katiyar, however, maintains that the BJP did the right thing by not fielding Muslim candidates. “We don’t have anything against Muslims. We want to take everyone along. But what’s the point in fielding candidates from a community that doesn’t support us,” Katiyar told HT.

Siddiqui, however, isn’t so sure. “I guess even on a conservative estimate about 10% of the community vote does go to BJP. The response to our membership drive is proof of this,” says Siddiqui, who had received a life threat in November.

“The threat was to force me out of the BJP,” says Siddiqui, who had filed a police complaint too.

After union home minister Rajnath Singh, two more union ministers – Uma Bharti and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi – have now publicly conceded that BJP could have done well to field some minority community candidates. “We could have done that (given tickets),” Uma had told a news channel.

“I am really feeling sorry that we could not field a Muslim. I spoke with (BJP president) Amit Shah and (state party president) Keshav Prasad Maurya about how we could have brought a Muslim to the assembly,” she said. “Rajnathji has said the right thing, we could have given tickets (to Muslims),” she said.

Naqvi also said it would have been better if the BJP had given tickets to Muslims for the ongoing UP polls.

He, however, said the BJP believed in taking along all sections of society and the community would be adequately compensated for after the party formed the government in the state.

Incidentally, prominent Shia cleric Kalbe Jawad had appealed to Muslims to support Rajnath when he had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Lucknow. Rajnath won the poll by a record margin getting good response from Muslims too.

Interestingly the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), a body supported by RSS to connect with the minorities also was hopeful of tickets to Muslims.

“It would have been nice had the party symbolically fielded at least one candidate from the community in UP. There were several hopefuls from within the MRM but I guess BJP knows better why it didn’t field any Muslim,” says Raees Khan, an MRM office bearer.

Ahead of UP polls Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tried to connect with the community by taking up the issue of triple talaq. Modi’s focus on triple talaq and how he wanted the exploitation of Muslim women to end had received mixed response from the community with many community women supporting the PM.

“With the motto of sabka-saath, sabka vikas our party definitely has plans for the minorities too. We want to take everyone along,” says Vinay Dwivedi, the BJP candidate from Mehnanun assembly seat in Gonda from where some Muslims were also demanding tickets. The BJP’s minority cell had also staked its claim on Sultanpur seat from where BJP put up Surya Bhan Singh.

“I don’t think it is right to judge our intentions simply on the basis of who all were fielded. The country is progressing under Modi’s visionary leadership and I guess everyone, including Muslims, would enjoy the fruits of that development,” says Singh. (With agency inputs)

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First Published: Feb 28, 2017 14:19 IST