New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed the BJP to reach out to non-Hindus, asking party leaders from northeastern states to visit Kerala to “highlight the party’s efforts to protect the interests of the Christian community”.
Speaking at the BJP’s national executive meeting in Hyderabad Sunday, Modi stressed that a number of BJP leaders and functionaries in the northeast hail from the Christian community and that they should hold programmes in the southern state of Kerala.
One of the reasons cited by BJP leaders for the emphasis on Kerala is that it is one of the states where the party’s efforts to make inroads are yet to succeed.
In Kerala, the CPI(M)-led Pinarayi Vijayan government has accused the Sangh Parivar of carrying out attacks against Christians.
“The suggestion was to hold something like a conclave in Kerala where Christian leaders from the northeastern states can participate and highlight what all has happened in their constituencies and what they intend to do for Kerala,” said a BJP leader.
PM Modi is also said to have 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.
The call to reach out to non-Hindus came days after the BJP bagged the Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha seats, both of which have sizeable Muslim populations, in bypolls last month.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, addressing party workers at the national executive meet, cited the BJP’s victory in Muslim-dominated wards in the state earlier this year to advocate a development-oriented approach.
“Sarma stressed that the BJP emerged victorious in municipal wards dominated by Muslims, which shows if they can vote for the party there, why can’t they vote for the BJP elsewhere?” said another party leader. “He also pointed out that the BJP has focused on the development work carried out by the BJP government in eight years and the focus in future would also be that.”
‘BJP believes in welfare for all’
Sources within the BJP said PM Modi’s suggestion will be implemented soon. To that effect, party president J.P. Nadda has already asked Christian BJP leaders to come up with a plan, they said.
“The public of Kerala needs to be told and shown that the BJP believes in the welfare of all, irrespective of religion and caste. Such tours and visits will help connect with people,” said the first BJP leader quoted above.
Another senior party leader said the Christian community has not traditionally voted for the BJP and that is something the party “wants to change”.
“Efforts are on to highlight that, as a party, we give space to Christian voices in the shape of our leaders and there are many policy decisions that have been taken by the Centre and BJP-led state governments for their welfare,” he added.
The focus of the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted during the national executive, is development-led politics where benefits of welfare schemes are extended to all, “irrespective of caste, creed and religion”.
“The PM highlighted how we are reaping electoral dividends because of our development-oriented politics and all states should follow that,” the BJP leader said.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)