‘Sab Ka Sath, Sab Ka Vikas’ is the slogan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the party wants to portray that it protects interests of all sections of society. Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought his party to power in the country with the assurance of development and corruption-free governance. Indeed in 2014, BJP secured the distinction of becoming the only party after 1984 to have secured the simple majority in Lok Sabha.
However, the BJP also has the dubious distinction of being the only ruling party at the Centre in the post-independence period not to have a single member of the Muslim community among its members in the Lok Sabha. The few Muslim BJP MPs are members of the Rajya Sabha and they are useful for the party whenever there is need to talk about the issues related to the minority community.
UP and Bihar are the two states which have a sizeable percentage of Muslims. The highest number of BJP’s Lok Sabha members also belong to these two states. And yet, the BJP had not fielded any Muslim candidates in Muslim dominated constituencies in these two states and nonetheless, the party was able to win an impressive number of Lok Sabha seats.
In the UP assembly polls, held earlier this year, the BJP did not nominate a single Muslim candidate. This seemed like a political risk as there are some constituencies where Muslim voters are decisive in the poll outcome. But the BJP emerged victorious in the state, winning an absolute majority in the State Assembly. This meant that either the Muslim votes were divided among the Samajawadi Party- Congress alliance, the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party or that they had voted for the BJP itself. In either way, the BJP was the beneficiary of this well planned political strategy.
The BJP has proved this point once again. On par with the successful Uttar Pradesh experiment, the BJP has now won power in Gujarat for the sixth consecutive term without nominating even a single Muslim candidates in any of the 182 assembly seats in the state. The previous BJP state assembly also did not have a single Muslim member belonging to the ruling party. Therefore, one cannot expect any member of this community to be the part of the Gujarat state ministry.
The recent election has sent three members of the Muslim community to Gujarat State assembly and all of them belong to the Congress. The Congress which followed the policy of soft Hindutva in the Gujarat poll campaign had taken a calculated risk while nominating these Muslim candidates.
In elections in Goa and the northeastern states, however, the BJP has nominated members of the Christian community as this community is dominant in many constituencies there. Manohar Parrikar has been able to form a government for consecutive terms in Goa only because of the social engineering he followed there. A majority of the MLAs in the ruling BJP party in Goa are in fact Christians. The issue of a ban of beef has also been kept aside by the BJP in Goa and northeastern states for most obvious reasons.
The BJP needs to mend this selective ‘minority inclusive’ policy and of abandoning the minorities when it suits it. The Dalits, OBCs and minorities which were once traditional vote banks of the Congress had deserted this party when these communities realised that they were taken for a ride. If the BJP shuns the minorities in this manner, these communities will look out for other parties which will protect their interests. The BJP can ill afford to ostracise the minorities if it is interested in consolidating its base in various parts of the country. The party should be democratic in true spirit and start accommodating the Muslims and other minorities while nominating candidates for various polls.