GUWAHATI, Jan 11 - The ongoing NRC update work is the turning point in BJP’s relationship with the minority communities of Assam and the saffron party believes its “increasing popularity” among those communities will help it put up a formidable contest with the Congress and the AIUDF in areas dominated by minorities during the forthcoming panchayat polls.
Assam BJP Minority Morcha president Muktar Hussain Khan told The Assam Tribune that the saffron party has been able to enroll 10 lakh new members from the minority segment during the past year and a half.
“NRC will prove to be the turning point for the BJP as far as our relationship with the minorities of Assam is concerned. People of Assam, especially minorities, have come to realise that only the BJP wants an error-free NRC where the name of no genuine Indian citizen is left out and no foreigner’s name is included. On the other hand, the Congress and AIUDF do not want the NRC work to be completed,” Khan said.
He alleged that Congress is speaking in two different voices on the NRC, with some leaders of the grand old party stating one thing in the Brahmaputra Valley, while their counterparts in the Barak Valley are adopting a divergent attitude.
“In contrast, the BJP has a clear-cut stand on the NRC,” Khan said. He added, “In the forthcoming panchayat polls, we will fight the Congress on an equal footing in the minority-dominated areas of the State.”
Khan said that the Minority Morcha’s membership has gone up to 33 lakh in Assam, from 23 lakh a year and a half ago.
“We have been able to make major inroads in minority-dominated areas of Assam, where our party hardly existed earlier. The minority population of Assam has witnessed the work of our governments in both the Centre and the State and they have noted that our schemes are benefiting all segments of society. We have gained maximum support among the minority youths and also among the minority women,” said the senior BJP leader.
He said that under the BJP regime almost 70 per cent of beneficiaries in lower Assam districts have been from the minority community for schemes like PM Awas Yojana.
“In recruitment to the police also large numbers of minorities have been inducted by our government. Such policies have helped in removing misconceptions among the minorities regarding the BJP,” said Khan.
Asked about allegations leveled by various opposition parties that the BJP discriminates against Muslims in ticket allocation during elections, Khan said, “Our party rewards workers based on their work and dedication and not on narrow sectarian considerations. Our party may not have had many minority candidates over the years, but exit poll figures show that even in the recent Gujarat elections BJP managed to win votes of 27 per cent of the Muslims of that state. What minorities want are jobs, development, infrastructure and better opportunities. Having a few minority MLAs and MPs is not enough if a large chunk of the minority population remains mired in poverty and face deprivation.”
Khan, however, added that the BJP would give tickets to a substantial number of minorities during the ensuing panchayat polls in Assam.