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SPECIAL REPORT: Riot-hit districts may prove to be waterloo for Gujarat BJP

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By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: Campaigning for the second phase of the Gujarat state assembly elections, slated for Monday, ended on Saturday evening. According to the Election Commission, campaigning for 95 assembly constituencies, which go to polls on December 17, ended at 5.00pm, 48 hours before the end of voting.

Seventeen assembly constituencies in Ahmedabad, 13 in Vadodara and five in Gandhinagar are among the seats in the fray in the second phase. Polling for nine seats in Banaskantha, seven seats each in Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Panchmahals, Anand and Kheda, six each in Kutch and Dahod, as well as four seats in Patan will also take place on Monday.

The most important thing in second phase of voting due to take place in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Mehsana and Sabakantha districts is that the voters will execercise their franchise reminiscing the highest number of violent incidents during 2002 riots that took place in these districts. Obviously, the Muslim voters who had to bear the brunt are all set to vote massively against BJP and this could in turn will prove to be quite decisive for the final outcome.

In earlier riots the major victims of violence were poor Muslims. Since Gujarat carnage the class divide of victims has been abolished and now even if one is as affluent person with reach, like Ahsan Jafri, he can also be the victim of violence. That’s the logic of communal violence today. Accordingly, majority of Muslims may evolve a uniform policy of voting for a candidate, who can defeat BJP. This was sometimes contemplated and exercised in practices.


The noted Islamic scholar, the liberal face of Indian Islam, Asghar Ali Engineer, points out that though the Bohra Muslims and their religious leader Dai, has good links with Modi for business reasons, still most Bohras will not vote for Modi due to the larger picture on political scene.

Maulana Vastanvi, who had earlier said that Muslims are doing better in Gujarat, has also said that Muslims should not vote for Modi.

The Muslim community recalls that the human rights activist Dr. J.S. Bandookwala had asked Modi to atone for his role in Gujarat violence and the Muslims community will forget the carnage and will move on. But that expression of remorse never came.

The core question dodging the Muslim community is that they have been effectively relegated to the status of second class citizenship in Gujarat. It is a part of their daily experience.

Politically marginalized, economically pushed back and facing the step motherly treatment from state, it is unlikely that Muslims can even think of voting for Modi.

While celebrations are already afoot for Modi’s victory, it’s unlikely that he can have a cake walk in Gujarat this time as apart from M factor the whole deprivation of dalits, Adivsis and other poorer sections of community are too deep to be won over by the rhetoric of Vibrant Gujarat.

Chief minister Narendra Modi, who is contesting from Maninagar, is among the 820 candidates who will vie for a seat in the second phase of elections. Their fate will be decided by an estimated 1.99 crore voters.Shewta Bhatt, wife of sanjiv Bhatt is aginast Modi in maninagar.
After the record turnout of more than 70 percent in the first phase of elections, it is widely believed that polling will be very high even in the second phase on Monday. Political parties did their best to woo voters before campaigning ends.

For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), chief minister Narendra Modi addressed as many as 53 public meetings using the 3D hologram technology, and seven other meetings in person in various constituencies of north and central Gujarat. Saffron party leaders Arun Jaitley, Purushottam Rupala and Smriti Irani, also addressed public meetings today.

Actor and former union minister, Vinod Khanna as well as actor Paresh Raval also campaigned for the BJP during the day. The party has also roped cast members of TV serial Taarak Mehta Ko Oolta Chashma to woo voters.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]
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