Lucknow : Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak has termed the BJP a “true well-wisher” of Muslims, targeting secularists who he said used the minority community as a vote bank and did not give it its rights.
Pathak was addressing a meeting of the backward or Pasmanda Muslims organised by the BJP Minority Morcha here on Sunday, an outreach by the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh to woo a community normally seen to align with groups like the Samajwadi Party.
Some estimates say over 85 per cent of Muslims in the country are Pasmanda, sometimes called Dalit or Backward Muslims. The category includes castes identified with weavers, butchers and barbers.
Many Muslim participants wore saffron scarves around the neck at Sunday’s meeting, claimed by the BJP to be the first of its kind.
“The so-called secular parties used Muslims only as a vote bank. These parties came to power by taking votes of Muslims, but the community never got its rights. This is the reason why Muslims are so backward today,” Pathak said.
The BJP is a true well-wisher of Muslims and it is making meaningful efforts to bring them into the mainstream, he claimed.
“For this, the government is running many schemes, which are benefiting the Muslim community,” he added.
Minority Welfare Minister Danish Azad Ansari said if there is any party that seriously thinks of Muslims, it is the BJP.
“The way the BJP is concerned about education, security and progress of Muslims, no other party has done it before,” he claimed.
Ansari said one of the biggest reasons for the backwardness of Muslims is that they were never allowed to get quality education.
BJP governments under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have paid special attention to quality education for them, he added.
BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Ghulam Ali said it is necessary for the Muslim community to move ahead by taking full advantage of the schemes run by the government.
He said other parties have so far done nothing for Muslims but served their political interests by claiming that the community should fear the BJP.
What is important now is that Muslims understand who is working for their welfare and who used them in the past, he said.
The BJP in Uttar Pradesh appears to have followed up on the suggestion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the party’s national executive meeting in July in Hyderabad.
He had then asked the BJP cadre to extend their affection towards backward communities like Pasmanda Muslims. — PTI