The people of Juhapura are used to being ignored, but it is election time and every Muslim here knows that their votes count.
“Why should we vote for a government that has treated us like pariahs for the last decade?” said Zeenat Shaikh, 23, who works in a stock broking firm in Ahmedabad,
8km from her home town Juhapura.
Shaikh is not alone. Many of the residents of this Muslim ghetto, originally developed to house 1973 flood victims and eventually the 2002 riot-affected Muslim, are furious. The government did not even have a town plan till 2009.
And the civic corporation was forced to provide amenities only after a petition was moved in court.
Since 2002, BJP candidates have never campaigned in Juhapura. And the CM Narendra Modi himself became aware of its existence only a year ago and ever since has been trying to reach out to the people with conciliatory gestures such as meeting local leaders and making appointments to the Waqf Board.
Even now there is no sewer line in the area.
The poll result here would have been a no-brainer but for delimitation. Juhapura has been merged into the Hindu-dominated Vejalpur constituency, so the new constituency has 35% Muslims. Needless to say, this election will see a close fight between Congress' Murtuza Khan Pathan and BJP's Kishor Chauhan.
And while the majority is not convinced that Modi speaks for all Gujaratis, not everyone is reluctant to vote for him.
A I Saiyed, a retired IPS officer and BJP's Muslim face in Juhapura. Saiyed represents a small section of well-to-do, educated Muslims, who feel that it is time to get into the `mainstream' to ensure development.
"I think Congress has used Muslims as a votebank, but done nothing for their welfare. Modi speaks for the development of all 6 crore Gujaratis and I believe in him.''
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