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Modi debates Ayodhya with Deobandis in closed-door meet

By A Rediff Correspondent
Last updated on: September 15, 2013 19:10 IST
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Since long Narendra Modi has been meeting Muslim leaders and interacting with them in private.

According to sources in Gandhinagar, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi met a range of Muslim leaders including Deobandis in the last week of Ramzan. In an off-the-record conversation, a Muslim community leader from Ahmedabad said that an important Islamic scholar and a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board had a 90-minute discussion with Modi during the Islamic holy month.

The source said, “To the surprise of visiting Islamic scholars from Uttar Pradesh, Modi assured them that Ayodhya is not the issue in the coming elections.”

The source claimed that Modi gave three reasons for this while debating the controversial issue of Hindu nationalists’ demand to build a Ram temple where the Babri mosque once stood.

Modi reportedly said that if former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government in its six-year-term could not solve the issue, then why are the Muslims worried now? He also quoted the UP court judgement in the matter and said the issue is now before the Supreme Court.

Modi also pointed out that more than 50 per cent of the voters were born after 1989 -- when the Babri mosque-Ram temple movement took shape -- and these young voters do not connect much with the issue.

The sources also said that Modi defended his controversial remark in an interview to Reuters, to the visiting Muslims.

In the interview, when asked if he had any regrets over the 2002 Gujarat riots, he had said, "Even If I am in the back seat of a car and a puppy (kutte ka bachcha) comes under the wheels, isn't it painful? It is. Whether I am a chief minister or not, I am a human being -- I will be sad if something bad happens anywhere.”

Modi told the Muslim group that he wanted to say ‘chinti’ (ant) but the interviewers (the news agency's reporters) may not have understood the Hindi word, so he used the “puppy” analogy. 

Since long, Modi has been meeting Muslim leaders and interacting with them in private.

A Muslim community leader based in Ahmedabad says that there is tremendous curiosity among the Muslim youth to know Modi. 

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A Rediff Correspondent in New Delhi
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