The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday held a Muslim conclave for the first time in a decade in Bihar.

In the party's first minority meet since 1998, top State leaders echoed the motif that the State's Muslim minorities were edging closer towards the BJP, while declaiming that the Congress was responsible for the deplorable conditions of the Muslims as brought out by the Sachar Committee report.

Speakers highlighted the 15 years of Lalu-Rabri-Congress misrule in the State.

Addressing the meet, BJP national spokesperson Syed Shahanawaz Hussain said the party had the largest minority base as compared to any other party in the State.

“People have this misperception that the minorities are completely alienated from the BJP” he said, stating that the “Bihar BJP unit under the leadership of Sushil Kumar Modi and C.P. Thakur had done much to improve the conditions of the Muslims in the State.”

Slams Congress

Accusing the Congress for instigating communal hatred which led to much loss of life during the Bhagalpur riots, Mr. Hussain remarked that the Congress and its allies such as the RJD had been toying with the Muslim vote bank for decades since independence.

Refuting the notion that he was merely the party's “minority poster boy” Mr. Hussain stressed that the BJP was a democratic party.

According to top BJP leaders, the move is being perceived as an attempt to “soften” the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's core anti-Muslim ideology prior to the Assembly polls.

Damage-control exercise

Political observers also perceive the event as a damage-control exercise after the Narendra Modi advertisement debacle, which created a schism between the BJP and its ally, the Janata Dal (United).

“Some people feel that Bihar has progressed despite the BJP's presence as an alliance partner, but in reality the State has succeeded with the full approval and the participation of the BJP,” said Deputy Chief Minister, Sushil Kumar Modi.

Citing strong Muslim preferences towards the BJP in Bhagalpur and Kishanganj districts, Mr. Sushil Kumar Modi said the NDA government had expended massive sums for minority welfare as compared to the paltry spending of the Lalu Prasad-led RJD government.

Through government programmes like ‘Hunar' and ‘Auzaar', the condition of Muslim women in the State had improved by leaps and bounds, Mr. Sushil Kumar Modi said.

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