Lucknow: In a notable deviation from its known policy, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has given tickets to six Muslims who will contest the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Elections scheduled to be held later this year.
The BJP, known for its anti-Muslim image, is desperately working on strengthening the party base in Uttar Pradesh. As part of this agenda, the BJP has decided to field six Muslim candidates in the Muslim dominated areas.
The Muslims who will contest the upcoming UP Panchayat Polls on the BJP ticket include Salahuddin Saifi from Ghaziabad (Ward 11), Sadeqa Chaudhary from Saharanpur (Ward 42), Bashir Ahmed from Rampur (Ward 18), Monu Warsi from Barabanki (Ward 5), and Kasim Rizvi (Ward 19) and Mohammad Zafar Ahmed (Ward 45) from Sidharth Nagar.
“My candidature as a BJP nominee has given a message to the Muslim community that BJP gives due regard to dedicated and loyal workers, no matter what community or religion they belong to. I am putting forward the same argument before the people,” Bashir Ahmed who is associated with the BJP since 1989 said while talking to The Indian Express.
Salahuddin Saifi also praised the BJP leadership and said the Muslim community too showed a shift in their strategy. He said tired of other political parties, the community now has decided to give BJP a chance.
"The situation was different when I had joined BJP 10 years ago. Then, I had to meet senior BJP leaders secretly. But now I meet all BJP leaders openly with a group of Muslims. The community has accepted my association with BJP because the party gives me due regard,” Saifi, who is also BJP’s minority wing president in Ghaziabad, said.
The elections is Uttar Pradesh is likely to witness multi-cornered contests especially in Muslim dominated wards as Asaduddin Owaisi led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has also announced to field its candidates.
Both the BJP and AIMIM will contest the UP Panchayat polls for the first time.
The BJP is not known to giving party tickets to Muslims in elections. This is hence out of the total 280 party MPs in the Lok Sabha not a single is Muslim.
In the 2012 Uttar Pradesh elections, the BJP had given party ticket to only one Muslim. He however had lost.
In the upcoming Bihar state elections the BJP has given party tickets to just two Muslims.