More than 50 Muslim candidates out of the 395 fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won in the urban local body elections in Uttar Pradesh, including five for posts of Nagar Panchayat Chairpersons. The U.P. BJP’s ‘Minority Morcha’ president Kunwar Basit Ali told The Hindu on Sunday that the figures may increase further.
“As of the latest available figures with us, 54 Muslim candidates from the BJP won in local body polls, including in Muslim dominated areas like Sambhal, Bareilly and Moradabad,” Mr. Ali said. A Muslim BJP candidate, Shoaib Abbas, emerged victorious in Ayodhya’s Bharatkund Ward Number 4 for the post of councillor, while Hakikun Nisha won from Baba Gambhirnath, a seat reserved for Other Backward Class (OBC) women under the Gorakhpur Municipal Corporation.
The BJP’s Kausar Abbas won the Nagar Panchayat Chairperson seat from Sambhal district’s Sirsi Nagar Panchayat; Phul Bano Ansari won the Chairperson election from Saharanpur’s Chilkana Nagar Panchayat; Wali Mohammad won from the Hardoi Gopamau Nagar Panchayat; and Nadimul Hasan won from Bareilly’s Dhaura Tanda Nagar Panchayat.
The BJP argues that the success of its Muslim candidates highlighted that the Muslim community had rejected the false narrative of the BJP being “anti-Muslim”, propagated by the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and that the Muslim community had expressed faith in the pro-poor and inclusive welfare policies of the Centre and the U.P. Government. “These results highlight that Muslims have started showing confidence and faith in the ‘double engine’ BJP government. The myth that the saffron party is anti-minority is getting busted,” Mr. Ali added.
The BJP fielded 395 Muslim candidates for the Uttar Pradesh urban local body polls, which was just 2.75% of the 14,500-odd seats. The party claimed 90% of its Muslim candidates belong to the backward ‘Pasmanda’ sub-group of Muslims, towards whom the saffron party has been making continuous attempts at outreach. In comparison to the previous urban body polls held in 2017, the saffron party fielded more than twice the number of Muslim candidates in 2023 polls.
The BJP has fielded Muslim candidates in districts with a sizeable population of the community — Moradabad, Rampur, Muzaffarnagar, Amroha and Bijnor, Meerut and Aligarh, and in the party’s strongholds, including Varanasi and Gorakhpur.