Bhopal: Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched a door-to-door campaign in Madhya Pradesh to drum up support for the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) and the National Population Register (NPR), it has been unable to quell discontent brewing among its own workers.
The anger was apparent when two senior office-bearers of the Madhya Pradesh BJP Minority Cell resigned from the party in protest against CAA-NPR-NRC.
Now, many of their colleagues have decided to follow suit and plan to hold a meeting on January 11 to discuss ‘en masse’ resignations from the party.
These members have alleged that their fellow leaders taunt them for being Muslims and pass religion-based defamatory comments on social media. Although they have been serving the party for years, they are being termed Bangladeshi and Pakistani, the alleged.
The BJP minority morcha office-bearers also alleged that they were not posted about the party’s campaign on CAA. If the Act was not discriminatory there was no reason for the party to keep it own members in the dark about it, they said.
“Before launching the awareness campaign in favour of CAA, the party organised a camp, but we were not invited,” alleged a Javed Baig, media in-charge of Minority Wing and former member of ABVP. He added that they were not even invited to rallies and meetings being organised by the party in favour of the Act.
The Bhopal District President of BJP’s Minority Wing, Adil Khan, and minority wing leader, Nasir Shah, too, have opposed the party line on CAA-NRC and are planning to join the proposed en masse resignation.
“We are opposing this controversial Act because it’s against the preambles of our Constitution, placing everyone as equal before the law. It’s a violation of Articles 14, 15, 21, 29 and 30 of the Constitution. Besides, it’s dividing the country on religious lines,” said Khan.
165 BJP minority cell members quit in Khargone
On Thursday, 165 functionaries of BJP’s minority cell, including office-bearers, resigned from their posts and primary membership in protest against CAA-NRC.
Tasleem Khan, district president of BJP minority cell — a former state body member — said 165 office-bearers of Khargone district, including state body members, Saida Khan and Imran Khan, and former state body members, Aziz Khan and Nizam Khan, had submitted their resignations to the party.
When BJP minority cell members arrived at the party district office to put in their papers, no party functionary arrived for two hours to take their resignations. The office in-charge, Hemraj Patidar, then took their resignations.
Questioning BJP’s ‘RSS and Hindutva agenda’, Saida and Taslim said they had been working with the party for several years to protect the interests of the Muslim community, but "now the ideology in BJP has changed and CAA-NRC are against the country's unity".
Two BJP Leaders Quit
Complaining of suffocation in the party, two senior functionaries of the state’s minority wing resigned on January 4.
Akram Khan, state secretary of BJP’s minority cell, resigned from his post to oppose CAA-NRC, saying he couldn’t bear “indecent comments on a class-specific community”.
In his letter to state BJP minority cell president, Sanawar Patel, Khan said: “I am resigning from the post due to the NRC and the CAA. Please accept my resignation.”
Later, talking to Newsclick over the phone, Khan said, “I have been serving the party for past 25 years and respect its decision on NRC and CAA. However, fellow BJP leaders were involved in indecent comments on a class-specific community. This is hurting sentiments. Hence, I have decided to quit.”
He further said that several fellow party leaders and workers “with whom I have worked for last 25 years, giving my sweat and blood to the party, now treat us as outsiders, passing community-specific provocative comments on social media.
“If they treat their colleagues with such a language, we can imagine, how they will treat common Muslims,” he said.
Another BJP leader, Abdul Hakim Qureshi, who was associated with the saffron party for years and was a close aide of BJP’s former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has also announced his resignation from primary membership of the party. He released a video of his resignation.
Qureshi, 65, had served as chief of Masjid Committee and member of the Madhya Pradesh Madarsa Board during the Bharatiya Janata Party regime.
The party’s Muslim workers said they had joined BJP feeling that it had a different vision, but, now they are feeling suffocated, as there is unequal treatment in the party with them.
In fact, the BJP seems to have forgotten its own minority wing in the rally taken out to support the controversial CAA. The campaign to drum up support for CAA has begun and a rally was taken out from P&T Chauraha in Bhopal on Sunday. But the minority wing was sidelined. Besides, Muslim leaders who were with the party for years, are now resigning and leave the BJP.
Several Muslim leaders of the party privately said that they felt the party no longer needed Muslim workers and hence they would leave the party.
It has also been decided by these party workers to resign en masse from BJP. In fact, in other parts of the country too, there are reports of BJP’s minority workers leaving the party.
BJP Opposed CAA, NRC, Takes Out Rallies
Many of the BJP Minority Wing leaders opposing the CAA, NPR and NRC in the state. They are carrying out rallies, criticising party for passing controversial law on social media.
Mohammad Anis, chief of Balaghat district minority wing and chief of district Wakf Board also led a massive rally against the law on December 17, 2019 in Balaghat district.
Talking to Newsclick he said, “I have been serving the party for the past 15 years and in tribal-dominated Balaghat district, I alone added around 5,000 workers. But, now, since the election is over, the party is boycotting us. No one calls us for party meeting, public events, nor does anyone listen to us.”
Anis, 55, said “we have given sweat and blood to the party for years despite facing criticism from the community for being with BJP, but now, we don’t exist for the party,” he added.
While the media in-charge of BJP’s minority wing , Javed Baig, said the minority wing was formed to represent the minorities in the party and had raised their concerns. Now, when the minorities’ biggest concern is CAA and NRC, then it is our rightful responsibility to stand with them and oppose it.
“I believe, we are on the right side, but, in doing so, the party has started boycotting the minority wing leaders,” said Baig.
Another BJP leader, Adil Khan, district president of the minority wing, said nothing has left for Muslims in BJP. “The present leadership was against the minorities and no longer need us. Hence, we planning to quit party,” he added.
“We have called a meeting of minority wing leaders on January 11 to discuss our future in BJP,” Adil said.
Newsclick tried to reach out the lone Muslim candidate of the BJP in the previous 2018 Assembly elections, Fatima Rasool Siddiqui, who had secured 36.11 % votes from Bhopal North seat, but she didn’t respond to the calls. Nevertheless, her close aide said that she doesn’t want to go against the party line. Hence, she was distancing herself from the media over the CAA, NPR and NRC.
Former chairman of Wakf Board and senior leader of the minority wing, Shoukat Mohammad Khan, too distanced himself from the issue, and said he was participating in pro-CAA rallies.
When contacted, the president of BJP Minority Wing, Sanawar Patel, brushed aside the allegations of sidelining minority workers. He said, “Community-specific comments will not be tolerated in the party….Everyone is equal in the party.”
When asked about the resignations and growing voice of dissent against CAA and NRC in the party he said, “There are misinformation among the workers over the issue and we will try to clear their doubts.”
Nevertheless, he was mum when asked about his stand on CAA, NRC and NPR, citing his limitations.”
The BJP, however, has denied that party workers were targeting a ‘class specific community’. BJP state spokesperson Deepak Vijayvargiya said, “We have instructed all party workers not to incite or create confusion among public on NRC and CAA. Special instructions have been issued not to hurt public sentiments on this issue. We will talk to the leader concerned.”