Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking for friends from the minority community to boost his party’s poll prospects in 2024. Bharatiya Janata Party’s West Bengal and other state units have been entrusted with the responsibility to scout for suitable ‘mitron’ for Modi.
The party has identified around 65 districts spread across various states, including West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where Muslim population is 25 per cent or more. Modi’s prospective Muslim friends, to be termed as “Modi Mitron,” will come from these districts.
The minority morcha of the respective state unit has been asked to rope in at least 5,000 friends in each of the districts with substantial Muslim population. Disclosing this, a BJP minority morcha leader from West Bengal said there are 11 districts in the state where minority population is 25 per cent or above.
The minority outreach drive
He said the morcha has been given the task of enrolling more than 50,000 members from West Bengal. The “friendship” drive is slated to kick-start after Eid, tentatively on April 25. “This is part of a larger minority outreach drive that we have undertaken to remove the misconceptions our political opponents have created about the BJP among the minorities,” said Ali Hossain, senior BJP leader and former president of the party’s minority morcha in West Bengal.
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He told The Federal that “nationalist-minded educated Muslim youths would be made ‘Modi Mitron’ to highlight the prime minister’s inclusive ideals of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayaas.” He, however, refused to divulge further details as the programme has not yet been launched. “You will get to know everything about the campaign, once it is launched,” he added.
It is learnt that Muslim intellectuals, madrasa teachers, religious leaders, social workers, professionals will be the main target group because of their perceived influence in the society. The latest attempt to reach out the minorities follows a year-long image makeover campaign the BJP launched last month. The campaign is titled ‘Sufi Samvad Maha Abhiyaan’.
A force multiplier for the BJP
To carry forward the campaign, 150 people linked to Sufi dargahs and Sufism have been engaged. They have been split into different groups to campaign among the Muslims on behalf of the BJP.
Through the programme, the party is trying to establish a dialogue or Samvad with the Muslim minorities, who have lots of “misgivings” about the BJP, said the party sources. The Sufi brigades and Modi Mitron will work as a force multiplier for the BJP, which has laid a special focus on Muslim votes in the parliamentary elections due next year.
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Apart from engagement and dialogues, the minority morcha is also planning a series of seminars, talk-shows, rallies and door-to-door visits in the minority dominated areas. There are around 65 Lok Sabha constituencies in the country where Muslims constitute more than 30 per cent of the population and are a deciding factor in the poll outcome.
The BJP sources said the minority outreach has become imperative as the party’s Hindu vote share has almost saturated. There is a feeling within the BJP that it has a silent support base among Muslim women, Pasmandas, Bohras and Sufis.
It is trying to woo them by extending the “hand of friendship” even though another section within the party continues to vilify minorities to keep the party’s core Hindutva supporters in good humour.