August 9, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether BJP’s outreach to Pasmanda Muslims is vote-bank politics or not. We also look at the provision for family health cards in Tamil Nadu, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Is BJP’s Outreach To Pasmanda Muslims Vote-Bank Politics?
The national executive meeting carried out by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Hyderabad recently served as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempt to win over the Pasmanda Muslim community in the wake of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Modi called for an outreach programme to support minority communities, specifically the Pasmanda Muslims.
Given the current political landscape, many Muslim leaders are apprehensive of the BJP’s intentions and are demanding action to back Modi’s words. Is this a strategic move by the BJP to win the Pasmanda Muslims’ vote bank?
Many sources have claimed that Pasmanda Muslims play a crucial role in ensuring the BJP’s victory in Muslim-majority areas of Rampur and Azamgarh owing to the community’s substantial numbers. Since the Hindutva party is currently preparing for state elections as well as the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Modi’s message could suggest that the party aims to win over the Pasmanda Muslims to prevent the Opposition from securing minority votes.
Socially and economically backward, the Pasmanda Muslims account for 85% of the Muslim community in India. The Persian word ‘Pasmanda’ literally means ‘ones left behind.’ It consists of the Dalit (Arzals) and backward (Ajlafs) Muslim population who have had to face discrimination from the upper class (Ashrafs), who make up merely 15% of the Muslim population.
This is not the first time the BJP has reached out to this minority group. The party has been actively working with the Pasmanda Muslims since 2014, according to Prof Khalid Anis Ansari. In 2020, BJP think tanks began a Muslim-outreach drive in order to gain power in West Bengal. Ali Hossain, the then president of BJP’s Minority Morcha promised many reforms such as the quashing of the NRC-CAA and proposing the criminalization of triple talaq.
Currently, the focus of the BJP has shifted to the lower rungs of the community as they make up the majority of the community. As the national convener of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, Girish Juyal, states, the party wants Muslim women and Pasmandas to grow in strength “to solve their own problems and the nation’s problems.”
VIEW: It goes beyond votes for the BJP
An affiliate of the RSS, the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) states that the progression of the Pasmanda Muslims within the BJP is occurring in a “natural way.” As Girish Juyal puts it, “…BJP may or may not benefit from this decision to focus on the welfare of the Pasmandas, but the country certainly will.”
The extent of the economic backwardness of the lower rung of the Pasmanda Muslims is extreme, and their situation has not improved over the years. PM Modi may have appealed to them in an attempt to bridge the gap between the upper and lower class of the community. This is evident through the BJP’s offer of the ministerial post to Danish Ansari, a member of the community instead of Mohsin Raza in the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet.
Additionally, the BJP MPs and MLAs are planning to carry out ‘Sneh Yatra’ or an affection march to make the Pasmanda community aware of the Centre’s welfare reforms. Schemes of the Modi government such as the Ujjwala Yojana, Kisan Samman Nidhi, Awas Yojana, and many others will effectively connect the community with the party, according to BJP strategists.
Some Pasmanda leaders feel that PM Modi’s call to the low caste Muslims will be an opportunity for better employment and social mobility and therefore should be taken seriously. Kunwar Basit Ali, the current president of the BJP Minority Morcha, stated that 4.5 crore Pasmanda Muslims in Uttar Pradesh have benefitted from the schemes rolled out by Modi’s government. He said that through these schemes, the BJP has successfully created a separate section of beneficiaries within the Muslim community.
COUNTERVIEW: Electoral and diplomatic purposes
The fear of Muslims under a BJP-led government is far from irrational. Numerous incidents of violence against the community under Modi’s rule are definitely not a coincidence. A Human Rights Watch report from 2019 indicated that 36 Muslims across 12 Indian states had been killed between 2015 and 2018 in relation to bovine issues. Unsurprisingly, there were a number of reports of Islamaphobic attacks across the country, highlighting the increasing religious intolerance under Modi’s government.
Instances such as this make it hard for Muslim citizens to buy into Modi’s initiative to make India more inclusive. Due to this, many Pasmanda leaders have been apprehensive about the Modi-led government’s attempts to woo their community. Prominent leaders such as Member of Parliament Ali Anwar Ansari iterated that for any meaningful discussion to take place, the BJP must recognise and address the specific concerns of Pasmanda Muslims.
A BJP party leader stated that if leaders make an effort to meet Pasmanda Muslim beneficiaries regularly, they could form a new vote base for the BJP. In addition to this agenda, the Modi government is using this opportunity to salvage its image, considering the blow it took after Nupur Sharma’s controversial comments against Prophet Mohammad.
Apart from securing victories in by-elections in Rampur and Azamgarh, the BJP aims to use the outreach programme to increase the party’s vote share from 37% in the previous Lok Sabha elections to 50% in the 2024 poll. In this way, the appeal to Pasmanda Muslims allows the BJP to gain electoral and diplomatic advantages.
What’s your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) BJP’s outreach to Pasmanda Muslims is purely a case of vote-bank politics.
b) BJP’s outreach to Pasmanda Muslims is a genuine attempt toward the empowerment of the community.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Why A Niti Aayog Study On The Economic Costs Of ‘Judicial Activism’ Must Be Viewed With Scepticism
For the Left:
UPI Will Act As Delhi’s Digital Bridge To Drive Rupee Across Global Payment Corridors
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Shutting shop (Punjab) – The Punjab government is set to close down the Punjab state civil supplies corporation (PUNSUP) amid rising debts of ₹1,400 crores. The state cabinet will soon discuss and approve the closure. Recently, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann asked administrative secretaries to identify a state management board, corporation, or PSU which could be closed down to lessen the state’s financial burden. PUNSUP will be merged with the Punjab state grains procurement corporation.
Why it matters: Most of the liabilities were due to the PDS under which dal and atta were given to people below the poverty line at ₹4 and ₹20, respectively. This was done during the Akali-BJP government from 2007 to 2017. The corporation also runs fair price shops across the state. Once PUNSUP is closed, there will be three state-run agencies for food grain procurement.
Family health cards (Tamil Nadu) – Every household in the state will soon get a family health card with their personal information, including health profile. The scheme will be a part of the Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam under which people will be screened for diabetes and hypertension. Some families in the city have gotten their cards distributed by the Greater Chennai Corporation. The model family booklet given by the civic agency will be extended to every household in the state.
Why it matters: In the past year, more than 5.9 crore adults have been screened. 33 lakh people have been found to have hypertension and 23.1 lakh with diabetes. The screenings were done through medical camps and in hospitals. More than 83 lakh drugs have been distributed to people. The scheme also includes follow-up care, which is included in the booklet.
Reviving Godna tribal art (Chhattisgarh) – Locals from the Bastar district in the state have taken up the task of reviving the age-old Godna tattoo art form. This primitive artistry is known for designs like the bow and arrow and bison horn headgear. As people prefer modern tattoo designs, this ancient one is fast fading away. Some local tribal youngsters are trying to revive it by promoting it to tourists and educating them about its significance. Some even attended a 15-day training course on Godna and modern tattoo art organised at the Bastar Academy of Dance, Art, and Language (BADAL).
Why it matters: Part of the reason the tribals want to revive this old art form is not just to earn a living but preserve a part of their culture and heritage. Some have set up small stalls in popular tourist destinations like the Chitrakote waterfall. One of the reasons it waned in popularity was the unhygienic way it was made with a single needle for several people.
Land for bullet train (Maharashtra) – Dabhale village was among the many in the Palghar district opposed to the government’s Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. In November last year, things changed as the gram panchayat passed a resolution in favour of the project. In the state, the largest land parcel is in this district, with a 30% tribal population. Some residents say they aren’t convinced about the project. Authorities denied any allegations of them being forced to come around.
Why it matters: Over the past couple of years, there has been a steady increase in land acquisition for the project. It has continued despite opposition from the Shiv Sena. In Gujarat, nearly 99% of the land needed has been acquired. Residents say land acquisition gathered pace once officials began targeting individual land owners to get their consent. They tried to convince a small group of people instead of talking to the village as a whole.
Garo objections (Assam) – Garo NGOs from the state met in Dudhnoi to discuss issues concerning the Garo community, in particular, the ongoing shifting of Garo medium schools and the plight of people affected by the border situation. The meeting was attended by organisations like the Garo Students’ Union (GSU), Garo National Council (GNC), and the Garo National Union (GNU). They objected to the government’s decision to shift the schools as it would render them useless. They also urged political parties not to politicise the border issue and work towards a timely solution.
Why it matters: Many Garo people were evicted by the government in the Hojai district without proper rehabilitation. Previously, the Garo community wanted a separate council to ensure the preservation of their culture, language, and traditions. Garos have a long history in the state dating back to before British rule. They’ve been wanting formal recognition from the Assam government.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
₹18,480 crores – The combined losses of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) in Q1 of Financial Year 2022-23. The losses were due to an erosion in the marketing margin on petrol, diesel, and domestic LPG.