The recent resignation of Tariq Mansoor from his post as Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and his subsequent nomination to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council is more than just an academic development. Political observers have noted the nomination as part of the BJP’s outreach to Pasmanda Muslims and a bid to bury its anti-AMU narrative in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
Prof. Mansoor’s resignation comes a day after Uttar Pradesh Governor accepted his nomination to the Legislative Council by the BJP government, more than a month before his extended tenure at AMU was scheduled to come to an end.
Known for his pro-government stance and knack for public relations, Prof. Mansoor may find himself lionized by the BJP as an educated face of Pasmanda Muslims. Earlier this year, the BJP appointed Danish Ansari, a Pasmanda Muslim from Azamgarh, as minister in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet, as part of its broader outreach to the community.
Interestingly, Prof. Mansoor’s Muslim roots are also frequently mentioned by media. The VC, originally from Meerut, has a stellar family lineage—his grandfather Abdul Khaliq was a professor of law at AMU who later chaired the municipal council in Aligarh, and the road from the AMU campus to the railway station has been named after him. His father, Prof. Hafeezul Rahman, was the first dean of the law faculty of AMU. His elder brother, Rasheeduzzafar was the vice chancellor of Jamia Hamdard.
Prof. Mansoor has gone a long way in balancing the age-old anti-AMU narrative propagated by the BJP and Sangh Parivar. His tenure’s high point was when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the centenary celebrations and described AMU as a “mini-India.”
As he joins the Legislative Council, many in the BJP circle hope for Prof. Mansoor to become a Minister in the State government. After all, the VC is credited for steering the university to the middle path during the Jinnah portrait controversy, and its students’ protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.
With developments such as Prof. Mansoor’s nomination, the BJP appears to have made a concerted effort to show its commitment to addressing Muslim issues and changing its perception towards the community. Time will tell if the party’s Pasmanda Muslim outreach will yield significant electoral gains in the upcoming election.