The BJP government’s ongoing Madrasa survey, which has invited a slew of criticism from Opposition parties and Muslim organisations, has found its most ardent defender in the Cabinet’s lone Muslim face — Minister of (State) Minority Welfare, Muslim Waqf and Haj, Danish Azad Ansari.
The 34-year-old legislator has passionately vouched for the move, pointing out that the exercise aims to connect the madrasas with government schemes like Nai Roshni, Nai Udaan. The government wants the children studying in these institutions to get an exposure to modern and technical education, along with religious education, he has argued.
“If I talk about Madrasa education, the Yogi government made it possible that National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) course is available to the students studying in these institutions. It will certainly help to connect the children belonging to average Muslim family studying here to the modern world,” Mr. Ansari reasoned. The description fits the Minister too, who comes from a humble middle-class background; his father used to run a saree shop, while his mother was a school teacher.
Last month, when political heavyweights like four-time Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati and Hyderabad parliamentarian Asaduddin Owaisi targeted the State government for the survey, claiming that it is being done with evil intentions to create fear among the Muslims, it was Mr. Ansari who came forward to its defence. “These propagandas are orchestrated by the Opposition as the Muslim community is drawn towards the BJP government. We only want the students studying in these Islamic institutions to get the exposure of modern and technical education,” he declared.
While his position on the survey may have only recent made him a newsmaker, Mr. Ansari’s rise within the party has been in the making for years. In the BJP’s scheme of things, he ticks all the boxes. For starters, he is from the Pasmanda community, which has been the focus area of the ruling party that has been trying to expand its electoral base.
Starting from scratch
Hailing from Ballia, in Eastern Uttar Pradesh — a place made politically popular by the legacy of the late Chandrashekhar, a socialist who became country’s Prime Minister for a short period — Mr. Ansari has replaced Mohsin Raza as the representative of the Muslim community in Yogi 2.0 government.
The MLA began his journey in politics in 2005, with his entry into the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He had then enrolled into the Lucknow University, where he did his graduation and post-graduation.
“From the beginning, I had a passion towards social service and education. I believe when youth will be empowered, then only our State and nation can progress. Both the Central government led by Narendra Modi and the State government led by Yogi Adityanath is doing a lot for the youth in general and Muslim community in particular; I am working to take the government’s initiatives to the ground level,” Mr. Ansari told The Hindu.
Mr. Ansari’s fervour has been duly rewarded by the party time and again. During the first Yogi-government, which ruled the country’s most populous State between March 2017-2022, Mr. Ansari was appointed as the member of the Urdu Language Committee in October 2018. The post was equivalent to Minister of State status.
In 2018, he was also made the General Secretary of Uttar Pradesh BJP Minority Morcha. Unlike, many turncoats who get important positions in the BJP, Mr. Ansari began from the grassroots, having held various organisational posts in the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in Lucknow for nearly a decade.
Political analysts believe that Mr. Ansari is a long-term asset for the party since the BJP is trying to expand its social base by including the Pasmanda (backward) Muslims in its electoral architecture. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said during the BJP’s national executive meeting in Hyderabad to address the problems of Pasmanda or backward Muslims, signalling a reach-out to them. Mr. Ansari is from the community and has age on his side. The party is witnessing a generational shift with new leaders emerging; he may be a prominent Muslim face in the long run,” said Sumit Kumar, a social scientist based in New Delhi who follows U.P. closely.