The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has historically not been known as a party for Muslims. However, the party leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been vocal about its intentions to appeal to the Muslim community.
During the BJP’s national executive conclave in Hyderabad in June this year, Prime Minister Modi had called upon his party to “reach out” to the Muslim community – in particular, the Pasmanda Muslims, considered a particularly disenfranchised section of India’s Muslim population.
To that end, the party, in October this year, announced its intentions to field candidates from the community in Uttar Pradesh’s local body elections. Now, the BJP is seeking to further the prime minister’s directives in the upcoming Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls too.
On November 12, the party released its first list of 232 candidates for the polls, which included three Muslim candidates – Shabnam Malik from Mustafabad, Irfan Malik from Chandni Mahal and Saba Gaji from Chauhan Bangar. The Wire’s Yaqut Ali travels to Chandni Mahal to speak with candidate Irfan Malik and ask him, among other things, what made him decide to contest the elections on a BJP ticket.
Noting that he has been working for the BJP for the past 10 years, Malik claimed that Prime Minister Modi was the first leader to ever “raise the voice of Pasmanda Muslims”, making references to the saffron party’s numerous promises to award tickets to Pasmanda Muslims as well as rallies in Uttar Pradesh to the same end.
Malik also expressed confidence that the BJP would return to power in the MCD polls, highlighting recent footage of AAP minister Satyendar Jain’s supposed ‘special treatment’ in Delhi’s Tihar jail and asking, “What can be bigger corruption than this?”
Meanwhile, residents of the area that The Wire spoke to had mixed responses. While some claimed that after years of inaction by other parties, the BJP is the one to bring about real change, others asked questions of the saffron party’s proximity to familiar communal pot-stirrers.
To know more about what Malik said and how the residents of the Chandni Mahal area feel, watch the video below.