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Between November 18 and November 23, Narendra Modi has 15 rallies in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. But the BJP prime ministerial candidate’s efforts might cost the party the Muslim support, claim Muslim organisations in the state. A pity, they say, given that in the past 10 years of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government the community was actually warming up to the BJP.
State president of the Madhya Pradesh Muslim Vikas Parishad – an organisation working for Muslims causes – Mohammed Mahir says, “In the BJP we saw only two liberal faces – Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Shivraj Singh Chouhan. But we are not going to throw our weight behind the Shivraj-led BJP this time. Our strategy is to keep Modi away.”
Mahir adds that groups such as Jamiatul Ulema Madhya Pradesh, Milli Council and Muslim Education Society are mobilising awareness among Muslims on the importance of putting their vote to good use.
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Safia Akhtar, state convenor of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, an organisation working for the community’s socio-political and economic concerns concurs. “Modi would definitely be an issue in the state assembly and Lok Sabha elections.”
Some of the things about the BJP rule that had worked for the Muslims were the government’s minority welfare schemes, the roza-iftar programmes at the chief minister’s house and his regular meetings with the leaders of Muslim groups.
According to Mahir, Muslims might not have voted for the BJP in 2008, but they kept away from polling booths as an indirect support to the saffron party and most of the Muslim-dominated seats went to the BJP. But now to keep away Modi, the Muslims would vote for a secular party.
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“Chouhan is liked but Muslims know that Modi’s nature cannot change,” said Shahar Qazi Ishrat Ali of Indore.
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