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Will Muslim Outreach Program Help India's BJP in 2024 Parliamentary Election?

© AFP 2023 SAJJAD HUSSAINIndia's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) waves to his supporters during a roadshow ahead of the BJP national executive meet in New Delhi on January 16, 2023.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) waves to his supporters during a roadshow ahead of the BJP national executive meet in New Delhi on January 16, 2023.  - Sputnik India, 1920, 08.03.2023
The 2024 parliamentary polls are just 13 months away and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has stepped up its preparations with an aim to repeat for the third consecutive time.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers to reach out to all sections of society, especially minorities and marginalized communities.
His request came during the national executive committee meeting in January and looks to reach the maximum number of people ahead of the key parliamentary polls,
According to media reports quoting party functionaries, Modi called upon officials to meet Pasmanda Muslims, the Bohra community, Muslim professionals and educated Muslims.
This is not the first time that Modi has called for Muslim outreach. In the previous national executive committee meeting held in Hyderabad last July, the PM asked party workers to consider the interests of economically and socially backward Pasmanda Muslims.
After Modi’s call, the BJP’s minority wing held a meeting in Rajasthan to finalize the blueprint for the plan.
The outreach program will be carried out in 64 districts of 14 regions in the first phase. They include Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Goa, Haryana, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Ladakh, Maharashtra, Kerala and Bihar.
BJP’s Delhi unit minority wing chief and former vice-chairman of the National Commission for Minorities Atif Rasheed told Sputnik that the party wants to reach out to those people in the Muslim community who have benefitted from the welfare policies of the Modi government.

"There are a lot of people in the Muslim community who don’t vote for any particular political party but they believe that something good is being done by the Modi government. So, the party wants to reach out to them and especially in those parliamentary constituencies where the Muslim population is over 30 percent," Rasheed stated.

Spelling out the aim of the program, he said that the party will contact 5,000 people from Muslim communities in each constituency and make them 'Friends of BJP' or 'Friends of Narendra Modi.'

“These people include those who have become doctors, engineers, social workers, journalists or businessmen as they can be influencers. Apart from this, we will also reach out to those who are marginalized like barbers, cobblers, vegetable sellers and others as they meet the mass every day,” he said.

Rasheed then said that another program under the banner of Other Backward Classes (OBC) wing of the party is being planned on April 6-14 in which party workers will reach out to Pasmanda Muslims and backward communities of other religions.

“For the first time in the country, 27 people who belonged to the OBC community were made ministers in the federal government. So, as part of the OBC wing’s outreach program, the party will send a message to all that everybody else only talks about the welfare of the OBC community but BJP works for them by giving them political representation,” Rasheed stated.

Under the OBC program, the party will contact people in 900,000 villages of the country including 900 villages where the population of Pasmanda Muslims is high.
He said that they want to send a clear message to everyone in the country that BJP works on the line of inclusivity.

“In order to be in power for long time any party needs to consolidate maximum number of votes. If we talk particularly about the BJP, it has Hindu voters, while a lot of people started voting for the party as they started liking its development model but despite this the party was not able to get votes from the Muslim community,” Muslim scholar Yusuf Ansari said.

He opined that the BJP has been planning the program since the Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections in 2022.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been working on improving the party’s image because all the previous prime ministers were hesitant in visiting Muslim countries but he has paid the most number of visits there and even called their representatives to India. So, he wants the BJP to be seen as a party which believes in inclusivity,” he stated.