Where Narendra Modi goes, others follow. Like the prime minister, several Bharatiya Janata Party MPs in Uttar Pradesh have officially adopted villages with no Muslim residents under the new Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.

The scheme requires each MP to adopt a village in his or her constituency and develop it into a model settlement with government-allocated funds. Scroll.in picked 20 of the 71 Lok Sabha constituencies won by the BJP in Uttar Pradesh in the general election. The state has 80 seats.

Of those 20 parliamentarians, 16 have opted to adopt a village with no Muslims. Even in the remaining four constituencies – Domariaganj, Hathras, Saharanpur and Faizabad – the villages chosen by the MPs are largely Hindu.

Across the state

When Modi adopted Jayapur village in his Varanasi constituency on November 7, the choice was disquieting owing to the absence of Muslims in the village. But the outrage subsided quickly under the presumption that his was an isolated instance. It is not.

The vast majority of the 20 BJP parliamentarians in Uttar Pradesh whose constituencies Scroll.in picked at random have also chosen all-Hindu villages.

They are Devendra Singh (Akbarpur Lok Sabha constituency), Hari Om Pandey (Ambedkar Nagar), Harish Dwivedi (Basti), Mahendra Nath Pandey (Chandauli), Kalraj Mishra (Deoria), Rajveer Singh (Etah), Mukesh Rajput (Farrukhabad), Babul Choudhary (Fatehpur Sikri), Hari Narayan Rajbhar (Ghosi), Yogi Adityanath (Gorakhpur), Hukum Singh (Kairana), Rajesh Pandey (Kushi Nagar), Neelam Sonkar (Lalganj), Hema Malini (Mathura), Sanjeev Kumar Balyan (Muzaffarnagar), and Modi (Varanasi).

The villages adopted by the BJP MPs are Tikwapur village in Akbarpur, Usaraha in Ambedkar Nagar, Amodha in Basti, Jalkhor in Chandauli, Payasi in Deoria, Naurangabad in Etah, Amrauli Ratanpur in Farrukhabad, Pusenta in Fatehpur Sikri, Dumraon in Ghosi, Jangal Aurahi in Gorakhpur, Sukhedi in Kairana, Gopalgarh in Kushi Nagar, Lohara in Lalganj, Raval in Mathura, Rasulpur Jatan in Muzaffarnagar, and Jayapur in Varanasi.

Defending choices

The exclusionary pattern in the adoption of villages has upset Muslim leaders in most constituencies and become a talking point there.

Hukum Singh’s constituency of Kairana is one place where ripples are being felt. But the sarpanch of Sukhedi village in Kairana dismissed the protestations. “These grievances are meaningless,” said Balbir Singh Saini. “Hukum Singh could adopt one village. What is wrong if he picked an all-Hindu one?”

Kairana is in the western belt of the state that witnessed communal riots in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. Hukum Singh, who was an MLA at the time, was booked for making a hate speech.

In Rasulpur Jatan village in Muzaffarnagar in the same troubled region, the sarpanch-pati (as the husband of the sarpanch is referred to in the Hindi belt) was even more supportive of Sanjeev Kumar Balyan’s decision to adopt his village. “Ours is a shuddha Hindu gaon [pure Hindu village], in which every voter is a BJP supporter,” said Naresh Kumar, the husband of sarpanch Sunita Devi.

Odd one out

Of the four constituencies where the adopted villages have Muslim residents, Ahvaranpur in Hathras is the native place of Dinesh Kumar, who heads Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Samagra Gram Vikas project.

Bharatbhari, the village chosen in Domariaganj, has a sizeable Muslim population. The MP from the constituency is Jagdambika Pal, a former Congress leader who joined the BJP just before the Lok Sabha election.