Earlier this week, when he was on a vacation in Mussoorie as he took a break after actively working for his party, the, in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls for months, 33-year-old Danish Azad Ansari had no clue that after returning to Lucknow he will be taking oath Friday as a minister of state (MoS) in the new Yogi Adityanath-led party government.
Ansari is the lone Muslim face in the Adityanath government 2.0, replacing Mohsin Raza, who was the only Muslim minister in the previous government.
Danish is the general secretary of the UP BJP’s minority wing. In the previous Adityanath government he had been a member of the Urdu Language Committee since 2018.
Sources said the party dropped Raza from the ministry this time because of complaints against him.
Currently, Ansari is not a member of the UP Assembly or Legislative Council. The BJP is expected to nominate him for the Legislative Council membership.
Ansari completed his post-graduation in Quality Management as well as Public Administration from Lucknow University, where, in 2011, he had joined student politics as a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the RSS’ students wing. He held various organisational posts in the ABVP in its Lucknow mahanagar unit till 2018, following which he shifted to the BJP.
When asked about his induction into the Adityanath ministry, Ansari told The Sunday Express, “Yogi ji and Modi ji (Prime Minister) have given me the responsibility of a minister. I have to work for the empowerment and welfare of youths and all other sections of society.”
A significant point in his selection as a minister is that Ansari belongs to the Muslim community’s Sunni sect that is generally perceived to be politically opposed to the BJP.
Raza belongs to Muslims’ Shia sect that is believed to be relatively more favourable towards the BJP. The BJP, for instance, is said to get Shia Muslim votes in Lucknow.
“Ansari is an OBC Muslim. By inducting him into the (new) ministry, the party has tried to reach out to OBC Muslims voters,” said a BJP leader.
On his part, Ansari said, “That opinion (of Sunni Muslims) has changed. Yogi government has effectively done works for all the sects of Muslim community. Schemes for ration, houses, Ayushman card have benefited all sections. Muslims too have understood that and hence they love BJP, Yogi and Modi.”
Ansari claimed that around 10 per cent of the Muslim population had voted for the BJP in the recent UP Assembly polls. He had campaigned among Muslims in various districts of eastern UP, central UP and the Bundelkhand region.
Asked whether he faced challenges on the ground while canvassing for the saffron party, Ansari said, “Common Muslims do not oppose me. Those who are associated with any other party and have a mindset of SP and BSP, only they oppose me. Common Muslims like the work of the BJP.”
Ansari hails from Ballia, where his father is a weaver, who runs a saree shop, and his mother is a school principal.
Dayashankar Singh, who also took oath as as an MoS (independent charge), was Ansari’s senior in Lucknow University, and the latter campaigned for him in his Ballia Nagar seat.
When Ansari was sworn in as a minister, PM Modi and CM Adityanath were present on the stage, and it was not the first time that he met them. He had met both the leaders earlier as a party worker deployed in their functions for making arrangements on the dais like placing chairs and putting up tents.