Sneh Milan: Ek Desh, Ek DNA Sammelan: When the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was running for the prime minister’s post, he advocated for the “Gujarat Model’. A model that boasts of infrastructure development, higher per capita income, and better law and order conditions, among much more. The Bhartiya Janata Party presented the same model in defence of being an anti-Muslim party. It was often said that if a government worked for better roads or better schools, all the communities would benefit, not just the Hindus. Despite the BJP fighting the elections on the issue of development, it became fashionable among some sections to hate Narendra Modi. The reason cited behind the hate often dates back to 2002. Regarding 2002, the Supreme Court of India took over most of the probes.
The Nanavati Commission was formed, and there was an SIT before which Modi himself deposed for hours. He received a clean chit, and the findings of the commission and the SIT are in the public domain.
Despite this, just one BBC documentary or just one TIME front page is enough for the intelligentsia to label Modi as anti-Muslim. But why is all this done? It’s called vote bank politics, a term known to even a kid in the nation.
What is the result of such a thing? Vested interests took away their votes and scared them, but delivered nothing. So, is there a solution? Yes, the solution to end the old shopkeepers’ shop of vote bank politics is through ‘Inclusion and Empowerment without appeasement or tokenism’, and this is what reflects in the BJP’s new formula, ‘One Nation, One DNA’.
BJP kicks off “Sneh Milan: Ek Desh, Ek DNA Sammelan”
With the run-up to the 2024 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party is planning a massive outreach programme, mainly focused on Uttar Pradesh, as the state contributes a lion’s share to the number count in the lower house, that is, Lok Sabha. The party will be organising the first of its kind, ‘Sneh Milan: Ek Desh, Ek DNA Sammelan,’ ‘ in UP’s Muzaffarnagar next month. The target would be to reach the minority community and gain back the lost ground in western Uttar Pradesh.
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In 2014, the BJP bagged 18 seats in the western part of the country; however, in 2019, the tally came down with the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance winning six seats in Nagina, Amroha, Bijnor, Saharanpur, Moradabad, and Sambhal constituencies. The results were better in the assembly elections this time, when Jats and Muslims together voted for the return of Yogi Adityanath and the BJP.
BJP Minority Morcha’s state president Kunwar Basit Ali has claimed that the BJP is seeking the support of the minority community. Ali, talking about numbers, says that in almost every Lok Sabha constituency in West UP, there are 2.5–3 lakh people from these communities. Accepting that the BJP does not have a toehold among these communities, the party thinks that the Ek DNA Sammelan would help it reach the minorities.
BJP aims at blurring the religious lines
According to Ali, there are 1.8 lakh Muslim Rajputs in Saharanpur and 1 lakh Muslim Gujjars in Shamli. Muzaffarnagar, from where the Ek DNA Sammelan would begin, has around 1 lakh Muslim Jats and 80,000 Muslim Rajputs. As the party aims at bringing them into their fold, the BJP is trying to find out a way that Hindu leaders from the Jat, Rajput, and Gujjar communities could be accepted by Muslim caste groups as well, thus blurring the religious divide. Ali says regarding this, “The point is that Rajput Muslims should consider Rajnath Singh and Yogi Adityanath as their leaders. Likewise, Jat Muslims should accept Sanjeev Balyan and Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary as their leaders.” The BJP believes that since Hindus and Muslims from different caste groups have been living together in Western UP, it will be easier for the party to convince the minorities that ‘we are people of one country and our DNA is the same’.
BJP’s minority outreach, with PM Modi and CM Yogi at focus
For the purpose of minority outreach, the Bhartiya Janata Party has nationally identified over 60 Lok Sabha constituencies in around 10 states and a union territory where minorities comprise more than 30 percent of the population. The aim is to bring them into the party’s fold through inclusion and welfare and continue the Modi-Shah juggernaut.
Well, it may sound surprising to many, but this is not the first time that the BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi have planned minority outreach. During his address to the BJP’s National Executive last month, the prime minister asked party workers and leaders to reach out to several sects of Muslims, like Pasmandas and Bohras, Muslim professionals, and educated Muslims, and initiate confidence-building measures.
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Last year, at the National Executive, the prime minister spelled out the party’s strategy of Muslim outreach, telling leaders to reach out to “the deprived and downtrodden” sections among all communities. This was seen as a signal to reach out to Pasmanda Muslims, an umbrella term for backward, Dalit, and tribal Muslims. On the same lines, Danish Azad Ansari, a Pasmanda Muslim, was chosen to be a part of Yogi Adityanath’s cabinet as a Minister of State. To your surprise, Pasmandas make up 85% of the Muslim population in India. Prime Minister Modi’s own practice of paying visits to the Bohra community from time to time can be seen in the same light.
PM Modi is just reiterating his Gujarat days
Prime Minister Modi has been contesting elections on his newly devised formula for development. At every step, he has left no stone unturned in extending welfare to the community. Many thinkers believe that, although Modi’s style does not fit the conventional approach, it provides a refreshing alternative to how empowerment can be done without appeasement and tokenism. This can be seen in the development stories of two districts, Kutch and Bharuch. Both the districts have high Muslim populations, but despite this, Kutch’s agriculture flourished, industry came to the district, its coastal strengths were harnessed, and it emerged as a vibrant tourist destination. The problem of law and order that persisted in Bharuch was resolved during Modi’s rule.
Is the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi doing the same?
The answer is yes.
Will it be electorally beneficial? In all the pockets, No. But this is a beginning to put an end to appeasement politics.
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