BJP candidate list for U.P. civic polls shows outreach to Pasmanda Muslims

Party gave roughly 400 tickets to community, 2.75% of the 14,500-odd seats; 90% of its Muslim candidates belong to the backward sections

Published - May 01, 2023 09:42 pm IST - Lucknow

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded 395 Muslim candidates for the Uttar Pradesh urban body polls in a bid to reach out to the community.

According to BJP leaders, 90% of these candidates are Pasmanda (backward) Muslims, who constitute about 85% of the country’s Muslim population. In the last urban body polls, the party fielded roughly 180 candidates from the Muslim community, which amounts to approximately half the tickets given this time. 

Voting will be held across 760 urban local bodies for 14,684 posts, including 17 mayoral and 1,420 councillor seats, in two phases on May 4 and 11. Counting of votes will take place on May 13.

The BJP has fielded Muslim candidates in districts with a sizeable population of the community — Moradabad, Rampur, Muzaffarnagar, Amroha and Bijnor — and the party’s strongholds such as Varanasi and Gorakhpur.

‘Dip in violence’

“Earlier, Muslims did not come forward and demand tickets from the BJP. This time, there are multiple aspirants for the party ticket from the same seat. It shows that the party’s acceptance has increased manifold in the community,” said Kunwar Basit Ali, State president of the party’s Minority Morcha.

The party has given four tickets to Muslims, including three women, to contest seats in the Varanasi Municipal Corporation. The women candidates are Huma Bano from Madanpura, Reshmi Biwi from Badhu Kacchi Bagh, and Vakil Ahmed Ansari from Jamaluddinpura. In Gorakhpur Municipal Corporation, the BJP has fielded Hakibul Nisha from Baba Gambhirnath, a seat reserved for OBC women.

In Moradabad administrative division, Muslims have been given tickets to contest three Nagar Palika chairperson seats — Rampur, Tanda and Afzalgarh — over 12 Nagar Panchayat chairperson posts and nearly 100 councillors seats.

More Muslims are flocking to contest seats on a BJP ticket as the threat of communal violence has decreased during the party’s reign in the State, said Salim Kassar, a Pasmanda Muslim and BJP candidate for the ward councillor election in Muzaffarnagar. The district in western Uttar Pradesh had witnessed the killing of over 60 persons in riots in 2013. “Most members of the Muslim community are daily wage workers who face joblessness in the aftermath of communal violence,” he said.

Muslims have also realised that the government’s policies are benefiting the community, said Ms. Bano, the party’s candidate from Madanpura. “A large section of the community is supporting the party following the realisation that there is no discrimination in the government’s welfare schemes,” she said.

In recent months, the BJP has held meetings to reach out to Pasmanda Muslims in the State and nominated Tariq Mansoor, the former Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, to the Legislative Council. The party has no Muslim member in the State Assembly and either House of Parliament.

Victory in the urban body polls will provide a fillip to the ruling party, which is aiming to win all 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh in next year’s Lok Sabha election.

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