New Delhi: The BJP is preparing to induct Pasmanda Muslims in its OBC (Other Backward Classes) Morcha following directions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ThePrint has learnt.
While representation in the OBC Morcha doesn’t by itself guarantee the Pasmandas a voice in the party’s organisational matters, it’s important in terms of symbolism.
According to a senior BJP leader, during the party’s national executive meeting held earlier this month, Modi had asked how many members of the Muslim community were part of the OBC Morcha.
“We do have some representation at the state level, but not at the national level. After the PM inquired about the involvement of the Pasmanda community, we have decided to induct members from the community in the OBC Morcha at the national level,” the party leader said.
The term ‘Pasmanda’ refers to OBC Muslims, comprising economically and socially backward members of the community. Pasmandas reportedly make up 80-85 per cent of India’s Muslim population.
Modi had earlier advised his party colleagues to reach out to other deprived sections among non-Hindus, such as Pasmanda Muslims, who are among the beneficiaries of various government welfare schemes.
“By giving a place to those backward castes of Muslims who have been marginalised politically, educationally and economically, we can give a message to the entire Pasmanda community that they are no longer a votebank for parties but are being considered important and significant enough to be given leadership positions,” Atif Rasheed, former vice-chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, told ThePrint.
“Linking them with BJP by giving them certain positions in the party, government or in commissions is a good step,” he added.
During the national executive meeting of the party that took place in Hyderabad on 2-3 July, the PM, sources said, had asked the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit to analyse the impact of the government’s policies on the Pasmanda community and develop a plan to have an outreach programme for them.
A second party functionary said that to ensure there is some representation of the Pasmanda community in the OBC Morcha, efforts are being made to make the appointments at the earliest.
“The upper-class Muslims have subjugated the Pasmanda community for years. They are the most deprived economically, and not much has been done for their welfare by previous governments. Not only do we want to give them a voice, but also uplift them,” added the functionary.
Previous attempts at Pasmanda outreach
The BJP had made Danish Ansari, who belongs to the Pasmanda community, a minister in the Yogi government in Uttar Pradesh, instead of Mohsin Raza, in an apparent attempt to reach out to the community.
Not only this, the chairpersons of the state minority commission and madarsa board also belong to the Pasmanda community.
This came after the BJP’s wins in the Lok Sabha bypolls to Azamgarh and Rampur — both of which have a sizeable Muslim population — last month.
Apart from increasing their representation in the government and party, the BJP is also planning to reach out to the Pasmanda community through its MPs and MLAs, and make them aware of the Modi government’s welfare schemes.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)