BJP's Muslim overture begins in Haryana with imams
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on January 5 met imams of the Haryana Waqf Board after the state increased the monthly salary of imams by 50 percent, while also giving an unprecedented promise of 5 percent annual increment. The Chief Minister met with Waqf Board members and the imams associated with the board at Gurugram University.
The move by the Haryana government was welcomed by Tanzeem Aim-e-Auqaf, an outfit of imams in the state. Reports said the organisation welcomed the state government decision and said the 5 percent yearly increment is historical as it has never been done before in the country. The organisation also highlighted that the decision will benefit more than 800 imams in various mosques in Haryana.
The Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar told the media imams can play a crucial road in improving education and health facilities in Mewat. He said he is working to build more infrastructure and development in the region.
He said the imams have played a crucial role for campaigns such as Beti Bachao Beti Badhao and Swachch Bharat to succeed in the area.
Not only the Haryana Chief Minister, BJP president JP Nadda also displayed another instalment of inclusivity as he offered a chadar at the Chandrapur Dargah in Maharashtra.
The overtures towards Muslims is significant since it comes from the BJP. The party has gone on a demolition spree in several states destroying the homes of what it sees as troublemakers, almost all Muslim. The case against the demolitions, including the one in Jahangirpuri in Delhi, is being heard by the Supreme Court.
No, this sudden affinity to Muslims could possibly be a move to counter the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra which was welcomed with great enthusiasm in Mewat. The Yatra entered Haryana via its southern-most end from Rajasthan. The response to the Yatra has astounded even skeptics and could influence elections later on.
The Haryana government has stepped in to see if Muslim voters can be pacified and accommodated by better paid imams calling for the azaan. While the BJP is on record in earlier years of crying appeasement every time some welfare measure was announced for Muslims, it indeed is a welcome sign for the party to realise it must carry everyone together.
It is the BJP’s headache now to sell to its core constituency how they should see this move. The moves for Kashi Vishwanath-Gyan vapi and the Shahi Idgah-Krishna janmabhoomi are now taking the legal route a la Ayodhya. Besides, Home Minister Amit Shah announced in Tripura recently that the Ram Temple will be open by January 2024. Elections for the Lok Sabha are due to be held in the middle of that year.
The BJP’s recent moves leave observers to separate the tea leaves to read: 2+2 = 2024.