Ahead of upcoming assembly elections in 3 major states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Gujrat, the NDA government has embarked a fresh “minority outreach program” by announcing “progress Panchayats” in minority driven areas, starting tomorrow from Haryana’s Mewat region.
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi will preside tomorrow’s event. Praising government’s step to reach out and connect to minority, the minister said, “The Panchayat will discuss about development of minorities. Inauguration of educational institutions will take place. We will inform about our plans for skill development.”
However the opposition parties have slammed the ideology of Modi government and announced it as a clear pre election gimmick to appease Muslim and Dalit votes and revise BJP’s anti minority image.
On the side lines of Prime minster Narendra Modi’s appeal to not consider Muslims as items of vote market, the move to conduct 100 progress panchayats in villages with minority population before upcoming election do hint towards political makeover strategy of NDA.
The congress party has questioned “timing” of inception of the progress panchayat. “Why all of a sudden Modi government has remembered minorities. Nothing has been done for them for so long,” said Congress’ Meem Afzal.
Reacting on the news, IMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi also said that if the government is really looking forward to empower Muslims, it should announce “concrete steps” like reservation and demand-driven scholarships to the minority.
While All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader said, “ban ‘gau rakshaks’ to prove that it is genuinely concerned about the minorities.”
Owaisi also said that empowerment of Muslims is the constitutional duty of the prime minister and it is not a “favour” to the community.
After Mewat, next panchayat is scheduled on October 6 in Alwar, Rajasthan, followed by the one in Maharashtra. The party sources also said that Naqvi would travel many states over the next 3-4 months to hold progressive panchayats. The aim would also be to dispel myths about NDA and educate people how riots have not taken in BJP ruled places.
It is well known that BJP has over the years have been unsuccessful in drawing votes from the minority community and this step could be a major game changer if works out properly.