Tuesday, July 23, 2024
HomeOpinionsPasmanda Muslims are 'vote bank', but rioting mob also usually consists of them: Eye...

Pasmanda Muslims are ‘vote bank’, but rioting mob also usually consists of them: Eye Dalit quota but will vote for madarsa, maulvis

It appears that the benefits being extended to the Pasmanda community appear to be an extension of PM Modi's 'sabka saath, sabka vikas' policy he has been talking about. Even the BJP knows that this policy has neither received any political gains nor does it expect to gain anything.

The National Executive meeting of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) was held recently in Hyderabad. While addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about focusing on the upliftment of Pasmanda Muslims. No one can object to the upliftment of an underprivileged section of the country. It is hardly surprising to see the Prime Minister of the country paying attention to the development of such a section of society.

However, it is important to remember that Prime Minister Modi is the biggest trendsetter in Indian politics at the moment. In such a scenario, everything said by him is bound to be politically interpreted. That is why the present condition of the Pasmanda Muslims and the political mathematics associated with them have become hot topics in media discussions. Keeping in mind the general elections of 2024, new political equations are being introduced involving Pasmanda Muslims.

However, the arguments being used to support these equations (especially in light of the results of the Azamgarh and Rampur by-elections) do not match with the ground reality. It is not that Pasmanda politics is being closely watched by the BJP for the first time either. Its partner Nitish Kumar in Bihar has worked on this formula before, but the political gains from this did not prove to be permanent.

In such a situation, the question arises whether BJP is really serious about any Pasmanda mission as the media is trying to portray. Does Modi need a new vote bank to win the 2024 general election? Will the 2024 general election put an end to the politics of the Muslim vote bank and theocratic hysteria, as the separation of Pasmanda will destroy the ability of Muslims to influence elections as a block?

Before looking for the answers to these questions, let us first see who are the Pasmandas, and what is their social, economic, and political status among Muslims. At the same time, we will try to find out how important Pasmandas are for the fundamentalist shop run by hardliners from madarsas.

Who are Pasmanda Muslims?

To show Hindus in a poor light, or to make them fight in the name of caste, it is often mentioned that Muslims have no caste or caste-based discrimination. This is a complete lie. Consider some castes among Muslims, Kunjre (Raeen), Julaha (Ansari), Dhuniya (Mansoori), Kasai (Qureshi), Hajjam (Salmani), Carpenter (Saifi), Manihar (Siddiqui), Tailor (Idrisi). The common thing among all these castes of Muslims is that they are Pasmandas.

Pasmanda is a Persian word. It broadly means backward and disadvantaged people. Most of the people who fall in this category are Dalits who converted to Islam. Some have converted from other backward castes as well. Muslims who come under Pasmanda are also called Arzal. Simply put, these are the people whose ancestors converted from Hinduism to Islam after the arrival of Islamic invaders. Organizations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad are running a campaign for their return to their original faith as well.

Ashrafs vs Pasmandas

Ashrafs come from the upper castes among Muslims. For example, Sheikh, Sayyid, Mirza, Khan etc. These people are either converts from the upper caste Hindus to become Muslims or their ancestors came from Central Asia. Ashrafs constitute only 15-20 percent of the total Muslim population in India, the rest are Pasmanda. However, the privileged economic, political and social status among the Muslims belongs only to those coming from the Ashraf class. They often use Pasmanda for their own religious and hardline politics. The Islamic mob that takes to the streets during violent protests consists of Pasmandas, while the command is in the hands of Ashrafs.

What do Pasmandas want from the government

Pasmandas, who are bound by the fatwas issued by madarsas, mosques and maulvis, and who form a huge chunk of Indian Muslim population, want reservation under the Scheduled Caste (SC) quota. All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz recently wrote to the Prime Minister and urged to add about a dozen of castes to SC community. This has been an old demand. Currently, these castes fall under the OBC bracket.

National Family Health Survey says that about 45% Indian Muslims take benefit of the OBC quota. To ensure that the benefit under the quota is extended to entire community, they want to shift to SC quota along with OBC quota. Amid this, BJP’s OBC Morcha National President K Lakshman has demanded a 50% reservation for Pasmanda Muslims in Muslim institutes like Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Millia Islamia and Jamia Hamdard.

Does BJP really need Mission Pasmanda

Ever since PM Modi uttered the word ‘Pasmanda’, mainstream media has started running debates like ‘BJP’s Pasmanda mission’, ‘is it easy for BJP to garner Pasmanda support’ almost on a daily basis now. Some even claim that in the Azamgarh and Rampur bypolls, BJP won only because of votes of Pasmanda Muslims. BJP registered a win on these two seats with a very short margin. If the Pasmanda Muslim community had contributed to their victory, the margin would have been much higher. In fact, the BJP even gained that these seats had a three-party fight.

It is true that the BJP gets some votes from Muslim community here and there. Some Shia and Dawoodi Bohra Muslims also vote for BJP. During the recently concluded Vidhan Sabha elections, OpIndia found that the Muslims there were happy with many schemes of the Yogi government. They had even expressed inclination to vote for the BJP on its basis. But if you see the voting pattern, you would notice that the Muslim community eventually did vote as a vote bank and eventually voted for Samajwadi Party. To put things in perspective, over 3.5 crore Muslims in Uttar Pradesh are Pasmanda.

Pasmanda ‘experiment’ in Bihar

In 2005 when under leadership of Nitish Kumar when the JDU-BJP government was formed in Bihar the Pasmanda card was played to garner votes. Bihar has over 1.5 crore Pasmanda Muslims. Pasmanda community leader like Ali Anwar was sent to Rajya Sabha by JDU under the same politics. Experts view the appointment of Pasmanda leader Danish Ansari as Minister in Yogi government though similar political lens.

But the effects of this politics played by Nitish Kumar was visible only in 2010 Vidhan Sabha elections. JDU was able to perform really well in some seats where Muslim votes play decisive role largely due to division of Pasmanda votes. This division in Muslim-Yadav vote also led to a defeat of Lalu Yadav’s RJD in those elections. But, even in those elections, Pasmanda voted for opposition parties where JDU-BJP alliance had put up a BJP candidate.

The 2015 elections Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav contested together in an alliance and the entire Muslim votebank backed them. That means, while one section of Pasmanda community that had come to Nitish’s JDU because of the benefits provided by the NDA, that has never quite stood by the BJP. In 2017 when JDU and RJD broke alliance, even the Pasmanda leader Ali Anwar broke away in name of Muslim solidarity. In 2020 elections, too, this community voted for the RJD. That means, even the political benefit that Nitish Kumar received was not long lasting. When the benefits of government schemes was fresh, they voted as ‘Pasmanda’ but in subsequent elections, they voted as ‘Muslims’. This is also why because of some UP government schemes, some Muslims in Deoband too voted for BJP.

Under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the BJP has registered phenomenal victories in general elections in 2014 and 2019. If things go as such, 2024 also seems to be favouring him. As of today, there does not seem to be any reason which can show that there has been a division in votes for the BJP, the same votes that won him past two elections. As per recent surveys, Modi’s popularity has not lost its sheen at all. On the other hand, the opposition continues to stay fragmented. In such a case, even basic understanding of politics shows that the political move to appease ‘Pasmanda beneficiaries’ does not make sense at this point. In fact, this could also threaten to upset the support base which actually vote for the party.

Hence, it appears that the benefits being extended to the Pasmanda community appear to be an extension of PM Modi’s ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ policy he has been talking about. Even the BJP knows that this policy has neither received any political gains nor does it expect to gain anything.

In reality, ‘Plan Pasmanda’ is important not for the BJP’s political stand but from the viewpoint of a empowered India. Till the time any community in India remains deprived, the dream of a strong, empowered India will not be fulfilled. In places like Deoband, where Muslim community is speaking about benefits received under the BJP government, it is a step towards India’s empowerment. But the bigger point is that the community which has taken to streets to terrorise Hindus by pelting stones, calling for beheading, development will be an unlikely criteria for them.

Note: Originally published on Hindi website, you can read it here.

Join OpIndia's official WhatsApp channel

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

अजीत झा
अजीत झा
देसिल बयना सब जन मिट्ठा

Related Articles

Trending now

Recently Popular

- Advertisement -