New Delhi: Terming the late former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam as an icon for the Pasmanda Muslims, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is drawing on his legacy to kickstart a nationwide campaign to reach out to the community ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The Pasmanda Sneh Samvad Yatra, which translates roughly as a “journey of affection and dialogue”, will begin on 27 July, the death anniversary of Kalam, and will conclude on 15 October, his birthday. The tagline of the yatra is “Samman se Utthaan ki Aur”, which means “from respect towards upliftment”.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants everyone’s development. He does not discriminate. The Pasmanda samaj (community) has been used as a vote bank but no one has really worked for them,” said national BJP minority chief Jamal Siddiqui.
He further claimed that Modi, being a member of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) section, could also be called a Pasmanda, a community that also falls in the OBC category.
“Narendra Modi ji also comes from the Pasmanda community. The fact we have a Pasmanda PM is a matter of pride and on his directions, we have decided to reach out to the community and inform them of all the welfare programmes meant for them,” Siddiqui added.
The term ‘Pasmanda’ refers to the socially and economically underprivileged section of the Muslim community. Pasmandas reportedly make up around 80-85 per cent of India’s Muslim population.
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‘Part of 50 per cent vote share plan’
The Pasmanda yatra has been chalked out by the BJP to reach out to the backward Muslims keeping the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in mind.
PM Modi on several occasions has talked about the Pasmanda Muslims and has also asked the party cadre to reach out to them.
“It is part of the plan for the next Lok Sabha polls. We are planning to get more than 50 per cent vote share and it can be achieved only by increasing the party’s acceptance among the new communities. Backward Muslims are one such community,” a party leader told ThePrint, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Starting from Delhi, the yatra will pass through Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and other states.
According to Siddiqui, the yatra was the first official programme of the party to reach out to Pasmanda Muslims. He explained that the party chose to associate the yatra with Kalam since the former President was an icon for the community who worked tirelessly for the nation.
“We want to give an icon to the Pasmanda community so that our people should not get misguided. In the past, leaders, right from Nehru, Mayawati, Mamata, Mulayam, to Rajiv Gandhi, have tried to showcase themselves as the icons for the community. But in reality they have never worked for the people,” he said.
“We have our own icon — Bharat Ratna APJ Abdul Kalam whom the entire country and the world respects. Just as he was a nationalist who worked for the country, we also want the young Pasmandas to work for the country. This is why we decided to start the yatra on his death anniversary,” he added.
Modi had earlier advised his party colleagues to reach out to various deprived sections among non-Hindus, such as Pasmanda Muslims, who are among the beneficiaries of various government welfare schemes.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)
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