BJP’s Muslim leaders today urged backward sections of the community to embrace Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “pro-poor” policies at a meeting organised here following his call to the party to reach out to them. Making a distinction between backwards and others among Muslims, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the poor Muslims have been unable to take advantage of the welfare schemes for minorities and claimed that Modi’s “pro- poor” policies will uplift them. Modi had asked leaders at the party’s national executive meeting in Bhubaneswar to reach out to the backward Muslims, saying they will also benefit from his government’s bill that seeks constitutional status for the OBC Commission but was stalled by opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha.
Addressing Muslims drawn from various states, Naqvi said parties like the Congress, TMC and JD(U) came to power on the strength of Muslims’ support but blocked the bill which would have “benefited” the backward members of the community. He said there are 84 such groups, like qureshi, momin and weavers, among Muslims which would get help from his government’s development push for the poor and backward.
It is not often that the BJP or its leaders organise events especially targeting Muslims, who have historically been wary of the saffron party due to a host of issues, including its Hindutva agenda. Former MP and Bihar BJP leader Sabir Ali, who organised the meting, urged Muslims to ally with the party, saying “patrons of secularism” like the Congress, RJD and others did nothing for them while getting their votes all these years.
“Modi says nobody should be poor or remain deprived. He is working for them. His government is working for development and it will help backward Muslims,” Ali said sharing the stage with Naqvi. Interestingly, it was Naqvi who had strongly opposed Ali’s induction into the party before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, calling him “a friend of a terrorist” and wondering if Dawood Ibrahim too will join the organisation now.
His outburst forced the party to cancel Ali’s membership and the rebuffed leader then filed a defamation case against Naqvi. He was inducted again before the Bihar assembly polls in 2015 and both the leaders patched up. Naqvi today heaped praise on Ali, who as a JD(U) MP had tried to rally backward Muslims in Nitish Kumar’s support, and said he was working diligently for the poor members of the community on the ground.