Parvesh Verma, a Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament, who represents the West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, said in a speech in Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh yesterday that Muslims have never voted for the BJP because it was a "patriotic party". He also asked the mediapersons at the event why all terrorists happened to be Muslims.
Verma's speech indicates that the BJP will approach the 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh by falling back on its strategy of gathering votes by minority baiting and polarising votes along religious lines.
"We don't care about any vote bank," the Indian Express quoted Verma as saying. "Muslims have never voted for us and they never will. It is a very simple matter... why is every terrorist in the country a Muslim and why do Muslims not vote for BJP... Because the BJP is a patriotic party, that's why Muslims don't vote for us. We don't care about any particular community. We will build the Ram Mandir."
Justifying his remarks, Verma later told ANI, "Our government did not bring schemes for any particular community. Even the Muslims can get benefits from all those schemes. But still I believe the Muslim community keeps a distance when it comes to voting for the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Muslim community votes for all political parties except the BJP."
He also accused the Muslim community of being indifferent to "development".
"Are the Muslim children in madrasas provoked against the BJP?" he added. "When I was asked why only the BJP is called a nationalist party, I said why terrorists in the nation are only Muslims and why Muslims do not vote for the BJP because it does not want to come in the mainstream and does not want to get associated with development. Mayawati has said that if the Muslims vote for her then she can make the government."
Verma then went on to associate Muslims with Pakistan and terrorism. "I think the most relevant issue is the relation between India and Pakistan," he said. "Why are terrorists only Muslims? From where do they get all the funding and from where they get all the weapons?"
After Verma's comments, Maharashtra Congress Secretary Shehzad Poonawalla has approached the Election Commission of India (ECI), the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), the Union Home Ministry and the UP government, seeking a ban on Verma from campaigning in poll bound UP.
"I have petitioned to NCM, ECI Home Ministry and DGP of Uttar Pradesh against BJP MP Parvesh Verma for his offensive, hate-inciting, illegal remarks against Muslims in Bagpat, UP," Poonawalla told India Today. "These statements are a violation of the Model Code of Conduct laid out by the Election Commission of India and violates section 125 of the Representation of People's Act, 1951 which prohibits promotion of enmity between classes in connection with elections and warrants immediate action under the law."
(With ANI inputs)