Two more Union ministers have said that the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) should have given tickets to Muslims in the ongoing Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, days after Home Minister Rajnath Singh voiced similar sentiments.
Uma Bharti, Union Minister for Water Resources and a recognised face of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, on Sunday said that the BJP made "a huge mistake" by not fielding any Muslim candidate in the UP polls.
"I am really feeling sorry that we could not field a Muslim. I spoke with (BJP President) Amit Shah and (state party President) Keshav Prasad Maurya about how we could have brought a Muslim to the assembly," Uma Bharti told a private TV channel.
"Rajnathji has said the right thing, we could have given ticket (to Muslims)," she said, referring to the remarks by the Home minister.
Echoing the opinion, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also said it would have been better if the BJP gave tickets to Muslims in the elections.
"As far as tickets are concerned, it would have been better (if tickets were given to Muslims).
He, however, said the BJP believes in taking along all the sections of the society and the community will be adequately compensated after the party forms government in the state.
"We will address their concern by compensating them when we form government in the state," Naqvi said, without elaborating in what ways the party will deal with the issue.
The minister said the NDA government's performance should not be assessed in the light of the BJP not offering tickets to Muslims.
"The BJP believes in taking along all the sections of the society. We formed government at the Centre with cooperation of all. Similarly, we will form government in the state...," he said.
Home minister and senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh had said last week that Muslims should have been given tickets.
“We have given tickets to minorities in many other states... Talks must have happened here (in UP) as well... I was not there, this is based on what I have learnt. May be they (BJP parliamentary board) didn't find any (winnable Muslim candidate). But I believe even they (Muslims) should get it," Rajnath told a private news channel on Wednesday.
However, not everybody in the BJP agreed with the ministers' assessment. Senior BJP member and Rajya Sabha member Vinay Katiyar disagreed with his party colleagues and questioned the logic behind fielding Muslims.
"When Muslims do not vote for us, then why should we give ticket to them?" asked Katiyar.
The BJP has not fielded a single Muslim candidate in the state, which has sizeable Muslim population and is considered crucial in the country's electoral politics.
UP has 403 Assembly seats.