Gujarat is going to have the
assembly elections in December 2012. As per the surveys and the
claims of BJP and Narendra Modi himself, the ruling Chief
Minister, will be winning with great majority. The media has
created a larger than life image for him, Modi’s own media
management firm has been creating the image of Modi as a man for
‘development’, and the big industrial houses are pitching for his
victory. The big industrialists are having a great time in
Despite the claims of Modi and company, the average
people are facing a rough weather as indicated by different
indices of development, nutritional levels, hemoglobin levels of
pregnant women etc. Still the popular perception in large sections
is that Mdoi will romp home and thereby stake his claim to become
the Prime Ministerial candidate from the BJP side.
At the same time Modi has been trying to win over sections of
Muslims to his side, businessmen, affluent Muslims in particular.
Some of them have openly advocated for Modi. One thing should be
clear that till a decade ago, it was a myth that the whole
community votes in unison.
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.
There is also a dilemma or confusion amongst some Muslims that
since BJP and Congress both are equally bad, how does it matter as
to who comes to power. This unfortunate perception of situation is
due to the vacillations of Congress on communal front, its
opportunism at times and its collusion with communal forces at
times. Its lack of principled stand against communalism has given
rise to this perception.
Still on deeper thinking large sections
of Muslims do become clear about the basic difference of BJP and
Congress. The difference is that Congress is ‘pragmatically
communal’ and BJP is ‘programmatically communal’. That BJP is part
of RSS combine whose agenda is Hindu nation and to bring in such a
state by working through the liberal space offered by Indian
democracy, should be well known by now. And in that sense Congress
or no other party can be compared with BJP. BJP is one of the
vehicles of communalizing the society as far as RSS, the patriarch
of communal politics in India is concerned..
BJP has been propagating that more communal riots have taken place
in the rule of Congress so how come, Congress is better than BJP
as far as communal violence, communalism is concerned. It is a
clever use of the fact that though the Congress has been in power,
the real instigator of violence, by and large is the BJP and its
affiliates. Congress merely colludes or looks the other way
Also here the role of police becomes important, as large
sections of police are not only very communal; police force is
also heavily infiltrated by those who have sympathies with
communal politics. In this complex situation, who do the Muslims
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.
Modi has been trying his best to woo over the Muslim community by
tying up with businessmen from Gujarat like Zafar Sareshwala.
Still the larger section of Muslim community remains fearful of Modi. Despite his Sadbhavna stage shows the Muslim community knows
that at root Modi has no sympathies with minorities. Modi’s
fasting and Sadbhavna meetings were well managed stage shows where
many with ‘beard and cap’ paid their obeisance to Modi, but at the
same time Modi got exposed as he refused to wear the skull cap
offered by one of the clerics who came to meet him.
This at a time
when he was putting on all sorts of caps and pagadi’s (head gear)
offered by Hindus and Jains. The Muslim community knows that in
this stage managed state show Modi has spent millions to project
his image of amity. But can the deeper wounds be done away by such
The Muslim community recalls that the human Rights activist Dr.
Bandookwala had asked of Modi to atone for his role in Gujarat
violence and the Muslims community will forget the carnage and
will move one. But that expression of remorse never came.
contrast Modi went to have more sophisticated defense to hide his
crime in the carnage of Gujarat. Now ex-MP Syed Shahabuddin has
come out with an open letter to Modi (Nov 2012) saying that if he
wants Muslims to vote for him, he should apologize for the Gujarat
genocide of 2002. Failing this Shahabuddin said that, Muslims will
vote massively and united for one candidate, irrespective of party
or religion who is likely to defeat the BJP in their
Syed Shahabuddin landed up in another controversy due to the tone
and tenor of his letter and the letterhead, but some of the points
which he raises are very valid for the Muslim community of
Gujarat. Shahabuddin has asked Modi to give full rehabilitation,
reimburse medical expenses, suitable compensation, rebuilding of
the places of worship which were ruined due to the violence
amongst other demands.
The basic flaw in Shahbuddin’s letter is
that to presume that Modi may be amenable to such suggestions and
the very process of writing a letter to Modi itself is a misplaced
one. Some may call it optimism but it is nothing short of a
delusion about Modi.
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. Surely, there will be some like
Sareshwala, who will ask for the votes for Modi, but barring such
elements, average Muslim has suffered and travails of living in
the ‘Hindu Rashtra of Gujarat’, where the affiliates of BJP, the
VHP, Bajrang Dal, Vanvasi Kalyan ahshram and ABVP are making the
picture complete by their brash ways of imposing their will on
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.
are burning mid night oil to ratify Modi’s victory, the real
outcome of Gujarat 2012 elections may be a surprise to many who
are undermining the impact of social development indices and the
scars of 2002, which remain very much painful even now!