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Published On:27 October 2010
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Did Muslims of Gujarat vote for the BJP?

Ahmedabad: Hardly anyone believed when Chief Minister Narendra Modi claimed that 50 per cent of the Muslims voted for his party in the October 21 zilla panchayat and municipal elections whose results were announced on October 24.

It was dismissed as an another gimmick employed by Modi to remove the black spots of 2002 genocide from his long political career that brought him to the political centre-stage of Indian politics but that also stunted his further growth and acted as a barrier for him to play a national role in his party as BJP's allies in other states have not accepted Modi for fear of losing Muslim support as it happened recently in Bihar and previously in Uttar Pradesh. Not only has that, even his party colleagues felt that Modi has become a liability. For instance, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj two days ago said that Modi might be successful in Gujarat but it could not be the same for him outside the state.

But the election results made available now go to support Modi's views. He may be detested and abhorred by liberals and Muslims outside for he is chiefly held responsible for 2002 riots that claimed the life of 1180 persons (Gujarat govt figure), mostly Muslims, but the poll results eight years down the line since riots took place indicate that Gujarati Muslims have forgotten the riots. And it is amply proved from the number of Muslim BJP candidates having won on the party symbol across the state.

Evidence

Out of 247 Muslim candidates fielded by BJP, 118 were victorious. And 31 of them in municipalities while the rest in zilla panchayat and taluka (tehsil or sub-divisional) panchayats.

The development has given birth to a debate because it was for the first time that BJP fielded Muslim candidates in the state and achieved a grand success by causing a major breach in the Congress fortress as Muslims were so far considered as a natural ally to the Congress in the state with two party system. Muslims did not vote for BJP because of the latter's ideological position on various issues including Babri Masjid and its pro-Hindutva stance on everything.

But the Muslims supporting BJP in the recent zilla panchayat and municipal elections have come as a surprise and thrown all theories about them to the wind. It has shown that Congress can no longer take their support for granted and they won't mind supporting even a Hindu-right party indicating Gujarati Muslims were politically becoming diversified and refusing to perpetually remain the political property of any one party.

And the elections results have made it evidently clear. In several Muslim dominated areas, Congress has fared very miserably. For example, Congress could secure only won seats in Dahod where it fielded 17 candidates but BJP won nine seats though it fielded only 12 candidates. Likewise, Congress could not win even a single seat in Muslim pockets of Viramgam in Gandhinagar district tough three Muslim BJP candidates won the polls.

BJP also bagged two seats from Godhra's Muslim pocket. Moiz Badeliwala and Sayeed Khan Pathan – two Muslim BJP workers – contesting as independents won from hundred per cent Muslim ward of Western Godhra. BJP, according to Godhra city BJP president Jawahar Trivedi, had not fielded Muslims in Godhra on party symbol owing to ``political reasons''. At several other places like Dabhoi, Anand, Khambhat and Kheda considered to be the strongholds of the Congress, Muslim BJP candidates from Muslim dominated areas secured victory. But what does this indicate? Is it due to a change of heart among Muslims for BJP and Modi, is a matter to be studied, analysed and debated by political and social scientists? Or is it due to the `programming' of EVMs as alleged by the Congress? It is a matter to be investigated by EVM engineers and experts.

But what is important is that BJP fielded Muslims for the first times on its symbol in Gujarat and about half of them won too.

But what was the compulsion of Modi to field Muslims as he never missed any opportunity to make derogatory remarks against Muslims like all garage workers and owners in Gujarat, meaning doing lowly works, are Muslims. He also used the phrase of `hum paach, hamare pachees'(we are five, we will produce 25) meaning that Muslims were only interested in increasing their population as they had no other work to do.

Reasons

Noted human rights activist J S Bandukwala, who is also the president of the Gujarat unit of Peoples Union for Civil Liberties(PUCL) points out that Modi is using the elections by fielding Muslims on BJP symbols as a tactics to divert the focus so that Muslims forget his complicity in 2002 riots and he gets acceptability among BJP allies in NDA so that he can fulfill his dream of playing a role in BJP at national level. However, Bandukwala, who himself suffered a lot in 2002 riots, painfully says that there were a group of Muslims like former IPS and IAS officers and industrialists and also `maulanas' who were working at the behest of Modi to forget 2002 in exchange for material benefits.

According to Bandukwala, pro-BJP results in Muslim dominated pockets are also due to reorganisation of wards and seats by BJP government to divide the Muslim areas in such a way so that Muslims politically become ineffective. He gives the examples of Mughalwada in Vadodara which had been split into three pieces and each part clubbed separately with three other wards with Hindu majority so as to make Muslims politically meaningless. He said that the Congress was also collaborating with the BJP in this endeavour.

If Bandukwala is to be believed, then there is another reason as well. According to him, it is the Congress stalwart Ahmed Patel not allowing any other Muslim leader to grow. The young Muslims with ambition and feeling frustrated with the Congress due to Patel's tactics are therefore drifting to BJP that has provided a space to them to realise their political aims.

But Mehboob Ali, Gujarat BJP (Minority Cell) president opines that Muslims are joining BJP and support it because of the Congress party's indifferent attitude towards the community. While the Congress did practically nothing except raising slogans of extending benefits to the community, it resulted in secular Hindus as well turning against Muslims being projected as pampered class. According to Ali, it only led to more suffering for the community and members of it have now seem to have realised the Congress tactics and slowly moving towards BJP because there is no third political option available in Gujarat.

(Courtesy: TwoCircles.net)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on October 27, 2010. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on October 27, 2010. Filed under . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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