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Why Muslims still see BJP with suspicion

February 27, 2014 10:09 IST

Why Muslims still see BJP with suspicion

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Archis Mohan

Muslims say the Bharatiya Janata Party has been half-hearted in its outreach to the community. Archis Mohan reports

Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh’s attempts to woo Muslims ahead of the Lok Sabha elections have few takers in the community.

Muslim leaders said the party had been half-hearted in its efforts to reach out to the community.

According to them, Singh’s comments, at a gathering of Muslims in Delhi, that the party was ready to apologise for its sins were meaningless, with the party still refusing to walk the talk.

Zafarul Islam Khan, editor, Milli Gazette, believed the BJP president’s comments were part of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s strategy to mislead five to 10 per cent of “simpleton” Muslims to vote for the party.

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Why Muslims still see BJP with suspicion

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Archis Mohan

Feroze Mithiborwalla, founder of the Muslim Intellectual Forum based in Mumbai, disagreed. He said few Muslims would vote for the BJP. Mithiborwalla said the BJP president by his outreach to Muslims was trying to convince those secular or centrist Hindus who view the BJP as a communal party.

However, the BJP, under pressure from within and from its allies like Shiv Sena, on Wednesday clarified the party president didn’t apologise for the Gujarat riots of 2002.

The party’s Muslim face, Shahnawaz Hussain, said if at all, it was the Congress which should apologise to Muslims for the riots in Assam and elsewhere.

BJP sources claimed Singh, addressing Muslim party workers and leaders, had asked them to give his party a chance to govern and the party would bow down and apologise if it failed to live up to their expectations in future.

“Rajnath Singh ji didn’t talk about any incidents in the past but of a brighter future for the Muslims of India if they support the BJP. Do Muslims have an issue with our governments in Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh?

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Archis Mohan

In the recent assembly elections, the party won even in seats with substantial Muslim population,” said a source close to the party president, claiming that media twisted Singh’s comments.

The source, while conceding the unlikelihood of the Muslims voting for the party, admitted votes from the community in Uttar Pradesh would help the party aim at winning 60 of the 80 seats. “There are an increasing number of Muslims across India who believe only Narendra Modi can save the country,” said the source.

However, Muslim intellectuals and community leaders that Business Standard spoke to say the BJP’s actions don't reflect its words.

They said the party tried to reach out to Muslims even in the run-up to the 2004 elections with the formation of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Himayat Committee.

The Milli Gazette editor said any apology was meaningless if the BJP continued to push Muslims into ghettos, whether in Gujarat or UP's Muzaffarnagar.

“You take any policy that could benefit Muslims and the BJP has opposed it,” said Khan.

“We don’t have personal enmity towards the BJP. The community would welcome their rule in Delhi. But their actions should reflect that they have the interest of India’s Muslims and Christians at their heart,” he added.




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