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'Allah is with Narendra Modi'
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Ahmedabad
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December 23, 2007 17:07 IST
A group of bearded Muslim men stand outside a tea shop in the Khanpur area of Ahmedabad.

They watch a joyous celebration but don't participate in it.

Drummers play loud music and firecrackers explode all over the place.

The reason for Sunday's celebration is the Bharatiya Janata Party's triumph in Gujarat. BJP workers have assembled in the hundreds at the party office after Chief Minister Narendra Modi [Images] retained the state for the BJP.

Ironically, for Modi, a politician with a pronounced anti-Muslim stance, the BJP office is located in the Muslim-dominated Khanpur area.

Ask Muslims what they feel about the electoral outcome, and Mohammad Hussain says, "Jo hua, accha hua (Whatever happened has happened for the good). We have forgotten the past and moved ahead. We hope Modi too forgets the past and does some good for the Muslim community."

"In the last five years," he adds, "Modi has done nothing for Muslims and we too have stopped hoping that he will do anything for us."

Muslims say their children do not get admission to decent schools, especially institutions run by Modi supporters; state government jobs also appear to be off-limits for them.

Gujarat's Muslims constitute around 10 per cent of the state's population.

After it became clear that Modi and the BJP had won the election, many Muslims felt the victims of the 2002 riots would not get justice.

However, they add that Modi is the state's only chief minister since 1947 to deliver a riot-free Gujarat these last five years; the Muslims hope he will continue to do so till his term expires in December 2012.

Says Ahmed Hussain, Mohammad's brother, "Allah is with Modi. It is Allah's wish that he wins and rules Gujarat and we have to obey it."

"We know Hindus are in a majority and it is they who will rule this state," he adds. "We only pray that Modi does not repeat the riots of 2002 and create problems for us."

Pointing to a dargah near the BJP office, Afzal Kadiwala says, "Modi has never visited the dargah. It is a stone's throw away from the BJP office but he has never bothered to come. He abhors Muslims. He does not want to be seen in our company."

"Many BJP leaders visit Muslim shrines and dargahs all over the country and that includes Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but Modi will never do it. If he does, he will lose his Hindu votes, so he will never come here."

The BJP did not give a single ticket to a Muslim in the 182 assembly seats it contested this election. In comparison, the Congress party gave five seats to Muslim candidates.

Asked about the development Modi boasts of having undertaken in the state, Mirza Baig, who is unemployed, says, "It (development) is only for Hindus. If you have a Muslim surname, then you are not even considered for the job. Your application will be rejected outright."

Baig is happy that Modi has been re-elected. "He will see that law and order is maintained," Baig says. "If the Congress had won the election, then there would have been riots all over by now."

Ziauddin Shaikh, a shopkeeper, says, "Modi is a reality and Muslims cannot do anything about him. We have to live with him. I feel we all have to come to one understanding. If you cannot defeat Modi, then join him. At least then, he will not kill you or disturb law and order."

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