Bihar assembly polls: BJP re-inducts former JD(U) MP Sabir Ali to woo Muslim voters

Eyeing a slice of minority votes in the forthcoming Bihar Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today re-inducted former Rajya Sabha member Sabir Ali to its fold.

Welcoming Ali, a native of East Champaran district in the state, the Bihar in-charge of BJP Bhupendra Yadav said, “Ali has fought much against discrimination towards the minority community and now wants to contribute to the cause further by joining BJP. We welcome him.”

Yadav said the policies of BJP champion socio-economic inclusion of the poor and ensure social justice for all communities and classes in the society, which is attracting people to the party.

BJP is looking to voo the Muslim voters scattered all across Bihar who count as 17% of voters. The voters are particularly concentrated in Kishanganj (70%), Purnia, Katihar and Araria (30-40%). Despite its record breaking performance in the Lok Sabha polls, BJP lost all four seats in the election. BJP Bihar president Mangal Pandey had said that the party was looking at a 10 fold increase in the number of Muslims candidates it would field for the assembly polls.

Ali was a JD(U) MP till March 2014, when he was expelled from the party for praising Narendra Modi, the then prime ministerial candidate of BJP. He joined BJP on March 28, but was expelled the very next day after his induction faced severe criticism within the party, especially from party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who in his tweet had insinuated that he had links with arrested Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal.

Ali filed a defamation case against Naqvi, but withdrew it later after the two arrived on an out of court settlement.

Asked about his tiff with saffron leaders, Naqvi said he had been working with BJP all along and there were no differences with anybody anymore. “BJP is a very big party and my heart is also very big in comparison to any small comment made on me. Naqvi apologised that there was some misunderstanding, misconception and I withdrew the case,” he added.

Ali also said that he has no plans to contest in the Assembly polls and he will do whatever work his party allots to him.

Speaking further on the occasion, Yadav said that lakhs of people from 80 assembly constituencies spread over 11 districts in the state will attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally scheduled at Muzaffarpur on July 25. “There is much enthusiasm among booth-level workers and supporters of our party indicating that Bihar is already striving ahead on the path of change. The rally will be a historic one and usher in the change needed for the betterment of the state,” Yadav said.

Attacking Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over his tweet using a couplet by medieval poet Rahim Khankhana, purportedly describing himself as ‘sandalwood’ and RJD chief Lalu Prasad as ‘snake’, the BJP party in-charge of Bihar said it has brought to light the reality of alliance between the two foes.

Though Kumar clarified later on that his tweet was aimed at BJP, which was akin to a poisonous snake, Yadav said the Bihar CM was a habitual betrayer and used a couplet of saint Kabir which tells that ‘the thread of love should not be broken, because a knot remains even if it is joined again’.

“Kumar first betrayed BJP, then he betrayed the mandate of people against the ‘jungle raj’ of Prasad. He went on to betray former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, whose growing stature unnerved him. He is habituated of betraying people and it is Prasad’s turn now,” Yadav said.

The BJP leader asserted that his party was not afraid of Kumar, but Prasad should remain cautious about him. Poking fun at JD(U)-RJD alliance, Yadav argued that if the two parties do not trust each other, how will the public trust them.