Mehfuza Khatun is among BJP's star campaigners for Lok Sabha polls

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 27-03-2024
BJP's star campaigners Mehfuza Khatun and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
BJP's star campaigners Mehfuza Khatun and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi


Malick Asghar Hashmi/New Delhi

Mafuja Khatun, a CPI(M) turned BJP leader from West Bengal, has been named as one of the party’s star campaigners as well as its candidate from the State where the saffron party seeks to make inroads for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Khatun, who is vice-president of the BJP's West Bengal unit, figures along with former Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi as the Muslim face in the 40-member list of the BJP’s star campaigners for the Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal for elections.

This Mehfuza Khatun is thus in the league of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda, Rajnath Singh, and Home Minister Amit Shah who figure in the list of BJP’s star campaigners for the elections.

Mahfuja Khatun is a career politician and has been elected to the Legislative Assembly as a member of the CPI(M) from Kumarganj seat in South Dinajpur district, neighboring her home area Jangipur. twice.  

Mehfuza Khatun celebrating a national day

She joined the BJP in 2017. Her experience and standing make her an asset to the BJP. Besides she is quite active on social media. 

In an interview with Outlook Magazine, she said, “When I was with CPI (M), my impression was that BJP is anti-minority. After I joined, I did not face any discrimination. I have attended many meetings, but I have never heard anything anti-Muslim.”

Today she is in the league of Suvendu Adhikari, BJP’s face in West Bengal. Also, she is the second Muslim candidate to be fielded by the BJP for Lok Sabha elections as per the lists released so far. The other one is from Kerala.

Mahfuja Khatun attending the national convention of the BJP

Mahfuja Khatun will thus become the first Muslim woman of the BJP to contest a Lok Sabha seat in Bengal. The 47-year-old woman leader has already broken many stereotypes and is expected to break some political barriers now. 

She is taking on the Congress party's sitting MP Abhijit Mukherjee in Murshidabad. Mukherjee is the son of former President Pranab Mukherjee.

On her nomination as BJP’s star campaigner and candidate, she says, "I like the BJP. There is no problem in asking for Muslim votes.”

Mehfuza with haj pilgrims

Khatun, popularly known as Mafuja-di, is often seen in the 'beedi villages' of her constituency, where most of the workers in beedi factories are Muslim women. A speech by Khatun on bedi makers' problems posted on social media has garnered over 10 million views on YouTube. “My social media popularity is a big advantage,” she says.

“In remote villages, people recognize me immediately and ask, "Apni kis mohila?" (Are you the same woman we see on YouTube videos). I am often asked this.”

Her election meetings attract huge crowds. During this period, Khatun takes special care to never get photographed with her long hair open. She covers her head with a scarf.

During her election campaigns for Assembly elections, Khatun has tried to motivate Muslim voters of her constituency Jangipur who constitute more than 68 percent of the 16 lakh voters to vote for her party.

Mehfuza Khatun being felicitated at a public function

“It's hard work,” she says. Despite this, she aims to change the perception of her community about BJP. She says that the BJP is relying on complex arithmetic. Apart from this, she also enjoys a 'good chemistry' with a large section of Muslim women. Out of 1,087,054 voters in this constituency, 525,319 are women.

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BJP calculates that Khatun would attract a large portion of the votes of Muslim women. The remaining minority votes will be divided between Congress, Trinamool, and CPI(M), while Hindus will vote en masse for the saffron party in a four-cornered contest.