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Bengal BJP tries to woo Muslims, holds rally in Murshidabad

Sulagna Sengupta | Updated on: 20 August 2016, 23:54 IST

Ahead of the 2018 panchayat elections, Mamata Banerjee is working hard to woo minority communities by introducing various state government schemes. Taking a leaf out of her book, the West Bengal BJP has also got into the act, asking the Central Minority Affairs Ministry to include below-poverty-line (BPL) Muslim labourers in its various schemes.

The BJP's minority morcha held a convention on 20 August in the Muslim-dominated district of Murshidabad, and has also sent a letter to Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi last Saturday.

The agenda for the convention

Senior BJP leaders said according to a survey they conducted, they found that around 50,000 Muslim labourers from Murshidabad lie below the poverty line, followed by Uttar Dinajpur (about 25,000) and Malda (about 13,000).

The convention in Murshidabad was organised to highlight the plight of Muslim labourers, and it was the first such initiative taken by the party in Bengal. Senior BJP leaders like Dilip Ghosh and Rahul Sinha were slated to attend the sammelan, alongside Abdul Rashid Ansari, president of BJP's minority morcha.

Ansari said: "As nearly 70% of the population in Murshidabad is Muslim, we have decided to organise the convention in the Muslim-dominated district."

Ali Hassan, Bengal president of BJP's minority morcha, said before the convention that more than 1,000 party functionaries from several districts were slated to attend it. "Our main agenda is to improve the condition of the Muslim labourers in the state," he added.

Another issue that was to be discussed at the convention is the issue of illegal cow slaughtering and cattle smuggling, which is rampant in the border districts of West Bengal.

Ghosh, the state president of BJP, said: "Our main idea is to give confidence to Muslims labourers that the Centre will help them if they can be included in Central schemes. After the convention, we will engage volunteers to conduct a survey about the actual scenario of Muslims in the state."

Mamata's measures

The Trinamool Congress government has already taken a lot of measures for the welfare of Muslims. These include:

  • Allowance/stipends of Rs 2,000 per month for imams and Rs 1,500 for muezzins through the state Waqf Board (which was later stopped after Calcutta High Court intervened)

  • Providing free bicycles to girls studying in madrasas

  • Providing scholarships to Muslims students (class one to 10)

  • Reservation for Muslim OBCs (which the Left Front government had initiated)

  • Making Urdu the second official language in districts where the Muslim population is more than 10%Giving free land to homeless, landless imams, under her pet scheme "Nijo Bhumi Nijo Griha".

A state government minister, on the condition of anonymity, told Catch: "We have already identified the plight of the Muslims in the state, and we have already included them in various state government schemes. Now, we're trying to make more welfare projects for the development of Muslims in the state, as the minority vote bank is crucial for the TMC to retain power."

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 20 August 2016, 23:54 IST
 
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