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‘Tribal leader, RSS links’ — who is Ghulam Ali, first Gurjar Muslim from J&K to be nominated to RS

BJP J&K unit secretary and spokesperson, Ghulam Ali Khatana, 51, started his political career in 2001 with the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party.

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New Delhi: Ghulam Ali Khatana, a Gurjar Muslim from Jammu and Kashmir, was nominated for the Rajya Sabha by President Droupadi Murmu Saturday.

A leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Tribal Morcha and Minority Morcha, a party spokesperson for Jammu and Kashmir and a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker, the 51-year-old is the first  Gurjar Muslim to have been nominated for the upper house.

A notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs Saturday read, “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-clause (a) of clause (1) of article 80 of the Constitution of India, read with clause (3) of that article, the President is pleased to nominate Shri Ghulam Ali to the Council of States to fill the vacancy caused due to the retirement of one of the nominated members.”

Khatana, who hails from Jammu, has studied electrical engineering and was active in student politics. His initiation on to the larger political platform happened in 2001 when he joined the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party.

“I was inspired by Raja Hari Singh, the great reformer, and wanted to work for the people. After spending a few years at the Panthers Party, I felt the need to expand my base and associated myself with the RSS,” he told ThePrint in a telephone interview.

Khatana joined the RSS in 2008 and worked with the organisation for two years before moving on to the BJP, where he was made in-charge of the BJP Minority and Tribal Morchas.

“I finally joined the BJP in 2010 and since then have worked as the national executive member of the Tribal Morcha in Uttar Pradesh, Jammu, Gujarat, and many other states. I was also a key member of the Minority Morcha and have worked at the grassroot level with people from economically weaker sections, Dalits, tribals and others,” he said.

“My aim has always been to work towards making the BJP a mainstream political party in J&K” he added.

Khatana has also been secretary of the BJP’s J&K unit, in-charge of the Muslim majority areas of Doda and Ramban in Jammu, and state spokesperson for the party.

Also read: With camps for Pandit voters & push for ST status for Paharis, BJP eyes ‘minority pockets’ in J&K

‘Elated that small-time party worker like me was nominated’

Talking about his nomination to the Rajya Sabha, Khatana said he felt “elated”.

“I have never cared for rewards. I believe in doing my work and maybe that is what has borne fruit — that a small-time party worker like me has been nominated for such a position. When [Prime Minister Narendra] Modiji came to power, he had said that ignored communities will be politically empowered and that is what he is doing now,” he said.

“For me, party [BJP] comes before my family and I am thankful to the party leadership for giving me this opportunity to work for the tribals, the minority section,” he said.

This, said Khatana, will also encourage other party workers to put in double the hard work. “Party workers know that if they serve selflessly, without seeking rewards, they will be noticed,” he said.

(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)

Also read: Poll prep or toast to ‘nationalist hero’? Why BJP unveiled statue of Mehr Chand Mahajan in Jammu


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