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Muslims next on Modi agenda?

delhi Updated: Sep 15, 2011 13:15 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times
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Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's three-day fast from September 17 — his 61st birthday — could well be the beginning of new approach to reach out to the Muslims in the state, said BJP officials.

As Arun Jaitley, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, and one of Modi's closest advisers, defended Modi's right to launch the “Sadhbhavna Mission,” sources in the party point to Modi's two blogs — on September 1 and 2 — which signal a change ahead of the 2012 assembly elections.

In his first blog, Modi specifically referred to the Jain community's custom to say “Michhami Dukkadam” during the Paryushan festival. “Michhami Dukkadam,” as Modi explained in his blog, “means I ask forgiveness for any hurt I may have caused you by thoughts, words or actions, knowingly or unknowingly. Michhami Dukkadam.” He ended by saying, “Michhami Dukkadam to you all.”

In other blog, he dwelt on the issue of education of Muslims and how no section can be kept out of development. He wrote: “I had the privilege of felicitating bright, meritorious students of Muslim community in Ahmedabad last week... It was extremely encouraging to see enthusiasm and exuberance for education on display... girls in particular.”

He noted that “the girls had outperformed boys that evening, securing 65% of the awards and recognitions... Gujarat has managed to rise above this trap of minority-majority considerations, to focus on all six crore Gujaratis as one. We have always maintained and aimed for universal objectives, without any discrimination — all students should get education; all kids should be healthy; and all poor should benefit from welfare schemes.”

Significantly, Modi added: “Just as even if one organ of a body is weak, the body cannot be considered healthy; I have always believed that my Gujarat cannot be considered developed if even one section of its society is left behind. True development has to be all-round, inclusive, comprehensive and sustainable.”

He has so far avoided responding to questions whether he'd express an apology for the riots.