The BJP’s decision not to pick any Muslim face as its candidate for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections is a significant political move. If the opposition tries to raise it as ‘another example of BJP ignoring Muslims’, then the politics of polarization will come into play, and the saffron party will be a natural beneficiary in such a charged atmosphere. Undeniably, the BJP has also added a twist to the plot of the Rajya Sabha elections by backing independent candidates in all the states where polling will take place on 10 June. The saffron party is offering its surplus votes to these candidates in what gives Congress leadership sleepless nights. Whenever an issue was raised in the past on the BJP ignoring Muslims in ticket allocation during the elections, the party’s message has always been that it does not believe in the politics of appeasement. What has been observed is that the BJP has been giving tickets to Muslims in Rajya Sabha polls earlier to silence critics on this. But in the current round of RS polls, the party has left the Muslim candidates out. Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Zafar Islam were hopeful of their candidature. Similarly, former Union Minister M. J. Akbar was also expecting a ticket. But BJP denied tickets to all of them. This is for the first time that there will be no Muslim face for BJP in either House ofParliament. It is likely that the only Muslim face in the Cabinet, Mukhtar Naqvi, will quit the ministerial post after July.
The BJP’s decision to keep Muslims out is being viewed as a well-planned political strategy of the party. In fact, Congress has been accusing the BJP of promoting communal polarization. Given this, the Congress and other parties may use BJP’s denial of tickets to Muslim faces as an example to enforce their arguments. But the Congress’ allegations like this have hardly found any taker, with the grand old party itself facing multiple problems. Congress’s choice of candidates for RS polls has created a political dispute within the organisation, with a lack of agreement clearly visible. So, all this is going in favour of the BJP, which stands to gain much more whenever there is any allegation of politics of polarization by the beleaguered Congress.
At the same time, the BJP does not miss any opportunity to put Congress into trouble. This is exactly what it has done ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. TheCongress seems to be in trouble after BJP-backed independent candidates filed papers one each in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Similarly, Kartikeya Sharma, who is in the fray as an independent candidate with the support of NDA’sally JJP, has given anxious moments to Congress. Sharma is sure to get the surplus votes of the BJP and the votes of independent MLAs. If cross-voting happens, then Congress will lose one seat each in Rajasthan and Haryana.
Of the four seats going to polls in Rajasthan, Congress is sure to win two and BJP is sure to get one. But BJP-backed Subhash Chandra is in the fray for the fourth seat there. With this, Congress is on the edge. Similarly, BJP fielded an additional candidate each in Maharashtra and Karnataka. Undeniably, every single seat is important for the Congress in RS, as the party needs at least 25 seats for being able to retain the post of leader of the opposition. The grand old party has 29 seats in the Upper House as of now. The party is eyeing winning nine seats in the current round of RS elections. But the BJP’s move could curtail its chances.
Already, the BJP is having a political upper hand with the issues like Gyan Vapi, Mathura, and Qutub Minar gathering momentum, even though it does not want to be seen as being involved in the politicization of these emotive issues. With most of the Hindi belt states going to polls before the 2024 Lok Sabha battle, BJP seems to be strongly positioned due to polarizing factors.