New Delhi, Lucknow: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday included former Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) vice-chancellor Tariq Mansoor as one of the national vice presidents.
The move, a part of the reshuffle of the party’s national office bearers, is aimed at deepening the party’s ongoing outreach among Muslims in general and Pasmanda Muslims constituting weaker sections of the community in particular with an eye on the Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2024 and the Assembly contests that are round the corner.
Mansoor was instrumental in steering the AMU, one of the hotbeds of anti-NRC and CAA protests, on a “middle path”, and later closely working with the RSS on its project to promote the teachings of Mughal prince Dara Shikoh on peaceful Hindu-Muslim coexistence in contradiction to his brother, Mughal emperor Aurangzeb's, way of working.
The appointment came on a day when Union Home Minister Amit Shah was in Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu to launch a book on former President APJ Abdul Kalam, also one of the icons of the party's Pasmanda outreach.
BJP's Muslim outreach
The BJP has been continuously reaching out to a section of the Muslim population through Minority Morcha meetings, mostly focused on Pasmanda Muslims, who are from Dalit and other backward class communities.
Muslims constitute roughly 19% of the state's electorate and have a sizeable presence in at least 30 Lok Sabha seats, out of which they play a major role in deciding the outcome in 15 to 20 constituencies.
Mansoor, a surgeon, who was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council four months ago, is from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh. He is the fourth Muslim to be picked by the BJP for the post in the last few years. His candidature had surprised many as the BJP national leadership had picked him over many senior party leaders. He has now been chosen for the coveted post of national vice-president of the party ignoring old loyalists Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Shahnawaj Hussain.
Mansoor had impressed the Sangh's leadership by his work on the Dara Shikoh project
According to an RSS leader, Mansoor had impressed the Sangh's leadership by his work on the Dara Shikoh project, by effectively using the AMU's Persian department to translate much of Shikoh's work on inter-faith dialogue and project him as an ideal for the Muslim community. He also organised seminars and conferences on this.
According to senior BJP leaders of Uttar Pradesh, Mansoor, who is known for his proximity with Sangh leader and convener of Rashtriya Muslim Manch, Indresh Kumar may spearhead the party's campaign in the state to woo Muslims. The party has been focusing on backward Muslims in the state to increase its tally in the coming general elections.