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Modiji Has Tied The Entire Muslim Community In A Thread

At 34, Danish Ansari is among the youngest ministers in India. He is also only one of the two Muslim ministers in the BJP-led governments —the other being Abdul Sattar in Bihar.

UP minister Danish Ansari at his Lucknow residence.
UP minister Danish Ansari at his Lucknow residence. Outlook Photo/Ashutosh Bhardwaj

Danish Azad Ansari Uttar Pradesh’s Minority Welfare Minister 

At 34, Danish Ansari is among the youngest ministers in India. He is also only one of the two Muslim ministers in the BJP-led governments —the other being Abdul Sattar in Bihar. Ansari, a Pasmanda Muslim, was not given a ticket in the recent UP elections, but Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath made him a minister and brought him into the assembly as a Member of Legislative Council.

Also Read | A Divided Muslim Society Faces The BJP’s Challenge

A resident of Balia, Ansari completed BCom and post-graduation from Lucknow University. He joined the ABVP in 2011, and was made a member of Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad Committee during Adityanath’s first term in 2018 before he was appointed the state general secretary of BJP’s Minority Morcha. The young man loves cricket and badminton. A few days before this interview on July 17, he and Power Minister Somendra Tomar organised a cricket match among MLAs of different parties. Now the face of the BJP’s Pasmanda campaign in UP, Ansari spoke to Outloook’s Ashutosh Bhardwaj at his official residence in Lucknow. Edited excerpts.  
 
What is the BJP’s Pasmanda initiative?

After the Narendra Modi government came in 2014, Modiji gave the slogan of sabka sath, sabka vikas. To ensure that development reaches the last citizen, he launched schemes for Muslims, focusing on women empowerment, health and education. Modiji is working for the upliftment of backward Muslims, who are also called Pasmandas. During the pandemic, the free ration scheme majorly helped the Muslim community, especially the poor and backward Muslims. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna has directly helped poor Muslims. As many as 35-40 percent beneficiaries of several government schemes are Pasmanda Muslims and economically poor general Muslims. 
Modiji wants us to sincerely work for Muslims. Modiji has tied the entire community in a thread. 
 
Muslims leaders say that you are creating a rift between the Pasmandas and the Ashrafs.

There is no rift or conflict between the backward and the forward Muslims. The entire Muslim community is united. Government jobs already have reservation for the OBC Muslims. We are now giving them the benefits of government schemes. Our government is not interfering in the beliefs, social systems and rituals of Muslims. We are only focusing on their development. Whoever talks about the rift is motivated or carries a political agenda. 

Also Read | BJP’s Pasmanda Move Pushes Muslim Politics To A New Moment
What has been your experience of working with Yogi Adityanath?

When we became ministers, Yogiji gave us targets for 100 days, six months and one year. Within 100 days, I have taken several steps for the safety and development of minorities. The state has a total 16513 madrasas, of three types --- aided, the ones where the government gives maandeya (salaries) to teachers and private madrasas. I digitised the madrasa syllabus and launched an app, MELA (Madarsa E-learning App), that helps students access live classes on their phone. We are going to add more features to this app. We introduced 15 new schemes and identified 24 minority educational institutions for infrastructure development. 

We sent as many as 50 Khadim-ul-hujjaj (Haj Sevak) for the Haj. They help the elderly Haj yatris. The SP government had not sent them during their tenure from 2012-17. We are also going to focus on civil services coaching for minorities. We are planning specialised Rozgar Mela for Muslim youths across the state. Besides, we will hold seminars to promote young Muslim entrepreneurs. I also want to introduce Qaumi Chaupal in various districts to spread awareness about the government schemes for the minorities.  

Also Read | Everyone Is Equal In Islam, But Not In The Muslim Community

One District One Product (ODOP) scheme has directly benefitted the Muslim community. Be it the weavers in Mau, potters in Azamgarh, brass artisans in Moradabad, carpet-makers in Bhadohi or chicken-artisans in Lucknow. These schemes have empowered them socially and economically. Which previous government focused on Muslim education? They only considered them as vote-banks. The SP and The Congress deceived the Muslims. Modiji said that Muslims should have the Koran and laptop in one hand each. 

We are giving special training to minorities under Hunarmand Yojna. Yogiji has modernised madrasas, introduced NCERT in madrasas, made NCC and NSS compulsory in madrasas. A student of madarsa is now receiving both religious as well as scientific education. We awarded Rs 1 lakh each to 40 toppers of the madrasa board, and 50000 to 9, besides giving them tablets.  

Also Read | The Romance Between The Pasmandas And BJP Will Never Materialize

Muslim community today trusts Modiji and moving with him. 
 
But BJP still received only eight percent of the total Muslim vote in the recent UP elections. The community doesn’t trust you. 

It was even less in previous elections. The Muslim community has gradually trusted us. In the Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha bypolls, the BJP candidate recorded a historical win, which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the entire Muslim community. The SP and the BSP misled the Muslims. A large number of Muslims are going to vote for the BJP in the 2024 elections. 
 
What about the statements of Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath like “topi wale gunde, kapdon se pehchane ja sakte hain”? There is a sustained campaign against Muslims. 

There are slogans of love jihad. Muslims feel insecure.

I believe that Muslims today feel more secure than ever in the last decade. The Opposition distorts the statements of Yogiji and Modiji. The Opposition questioned Yogiji’s directive on loudspeakers. But ordinary Muslims came forward and embraced the change. They either removed the loudspeakers or lowered the volume without any force or pressure. There are several elements in both communities who are trying to disrupt the harmony. They are misleading youth. India is the only country where everyone is free to follow religious beliefs. Muslims have various opportunities today. Muslim society is moving towards progress. They are now keeping aside negative thoughts. 
 
What about the poor representation of Muslims in the BJP? The BJP did not give ticket to any Muslim in UP elections. It has governments in several states and at the Centre, but there are only two Muslim ministers all over the country—Abdul Sattar and you. 

Our party is preparing a Muslim leadership. Be it Urdu academies, Minority Commission, Madarsa Board, Haj Committee, everywhere Muslims are being brought on the front. 

But this means nothing. You won’t have a Hindu to head the Haj committee. This was the situation always. 

If we didn’t want the upliftment of Muslims, we could have left these positions vacant. We prepared a leadership. Had it not been the case, a young man of an ordinary family wouldn’t have been the minister in the UP government. Modiji wants Muslims to come forward politically, socially and economically.

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