Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Development for all and Appeasement of none
This is especially for all those who are still stuck on 2002/Godhra!
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan ‘Development without appeasement or discrimination’, which is an antidote to the politics of minority appeasement being practiced in the country for decades, is clearly finding robust acceptability amongst a vast section of Muslims in Gujarat. And if the same phenomenon starts having impact at the national level then Modi might emerge as one of the first politicians ever to find a solution to the politics of religious appeasement that has torn the nation’s social fabric. A close look at the voting pattern of Muslims in the recent Gujarat Assembly polls gives a big thumbs-up to Modi’s ‘politics of development for all’ and his call to free India from the clutches of vote-bank politics. An unbelievable 30 to 60 per cent Muslims voted for the BJP in as many as 22 constituencies where Muslims are in significant numbers.
In Wagra in South Gujarat and Bhuj in Kutch, Muslim votes played a key role in the BJP victory though the Congress candidates on both the seats were Muslims. As Kamaluddin Kazi, a school van owner in Gandevi in South Gujarat, puts it: “The civic works that Muslim areas have seen in Gandevi town by the local BJP-ruled municipality are unprecedented. In fact, development is coming to us for the first time since Independence. I pray Modi becomes Prime Minister of India in 2014.” Adds Mehboobali Bavasaheb, president of the Gujarat BJP Minority Morcha, who played a stellar role in taking Modi’s message of development to the Muslims: “This election is, in a way, a turning point in the political context. Muslim support to Modi on his development plank has surpassed our best expectations.”
Gandevi is a good example as to why Muslims are veering towards Modi. Sixty per cent of Muslims voted for BJP candidate and former minister Mangubhai Patel here on the basis of the development. Just an year ago, the Muslim Ghanchiwad area in the town used to look like a slum in monsoon as pools of stinking water bred mosquitoes on its kuchha, muddy roads. Today, it has a cement road and the streets are spic and span and lined with streetlights. The four BJP Muslim councillors in the BJP-ruled Gandevi municipality have worked wonders with the help of local BJP leaders. Says a proud Afsabanu Mujavar, one of the BJP councillors: “Today Modi and Muslims have mutual respect for each other because of his attempts to bring development to the Muslims’ doorstep. Muslims want progress and justice not appeasement.”
Same is the feeling amongst a large number of Muslims in Palej town near Bharuch which is part of the Wagra constituency where Muslims constitute almost 50 per cent. Here the BJP’s Hindu candidate defeated the Congress’s Muslim candidate with the help of Muslim votes. In Palej town, nearly 35 per cent of local Muslims voted for the BJP on the slogan of development which is symbolised here by the revival of a closed government hospital in the form of community health centre at a cost of Rs 2.70 crore. The hospital is proving to be a boon to pregnant women. Every month about 30 deliveries take place in the town and now women in labour don’t need to travel 20 km to Bharuch for delivery.
Said burqa-clad Bilkisbanu Patel, 25, wife of a Muslim rickshaw driver awaiting her delivery in the hospital: “This hospital is a blessing for one and and all.” The hospital building was made in 1967 but it never became operational and in due course locals started tying their cattle in it and also storing cattle feed. When Modi sent clear signals in 2007 that he meant development for Muslims too, the Palej Muslims approached local MLA Dushyant Patel who got Rs 2.70 crore sanctioned from Modi government for reviving the defunct hospital.
When reminded that Modi didn’t give ticket to a single Muslim in the recent polls, Malang Pathan, a BJP worker in Palej, says: “Needy Muslims want development, not tickets.” Rasool Khan, a farmer, goes a step further: “The Modi Government has given us everything that we wanted, from roads and hospital to potable drinking water. Why shouldn’t we vote for Modi?”
The tone of a significant number of Navsari Muslims is similar, thanks to the turnaround in civic amenities they have seen under the local BJP-controlled municipal body. Khatija Dabheli, 54, a housewife in the semi-slum Hidayatnagar area and wife of a taxi driver, can’t stop praising the BJP ever since the civic body made a pucca road in the locality. “Our area used to stink in monsoon due to the kuchha road. The pucca road has come as a big relief .” Yasin Chisti, 55, a former journalist is blunt when he says: “We are for Modi because we want development. Modi is straight and talks in one voice unlike other parties.”
In Bhuj constituency where the BJP’s Nimaben Acharya won against Congress’s Amir Ali Lodhiya, the Muslims were impressed by the employment that Modi has brought to the distant Muslim villages on the Pakistan border in the form of tourism development. Plus, Modi has got national animal status to the famous Kutchi buffalo of Banni, thus leading to an impressive increase in its sale price.
Interestingly, in South Gujarat at many places both the moderate Barelvis or Sufis and the orthodox Deobandis voted for the BJP. But in many places like Porbandar, the schism between the Barelvis and the Deobandis came out in the open with the former voting for BJP in hordes, drawn by Modi’s speech early this year at a Muslim function when he said: “I am a supporter of Sufism as Sufi tradition is an integral part of Indian culture.” Says Maulana Abdulsattar Hamdani, a Sufi leader of Porbandar: “Modi is the first Chief Minister to speak such words for Sufism in unequivocal terms.”
In Porbandar, the Barelvis, who far outnumber Deobandis, played a key role in the defeat of state Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia as nearly 65 per cent of the local Muslims voted for BJP candidate Babu Bokhiriya.
The Congress poohs poohs Modi’s claims of all-round development. Says Gyasuddin Shaikh, newly elected Congress MLA from Dariapir in Ahmedabad: “It is part of Modi’s strategy with an eye on his future goals that he keeps harping on Muslim support to him. But Muslims will never accept Modi. Those Muslims who voted for BJP this time did so on the strength of the work done by individual BJP MLAs.” However, Gujarat poll results reveal Modi is a on a stronger wicket now on the Muslim issue.