Muslims veering towards AAP, Kejriwal gaining popularity?

  • Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times, Jaipur
  • Updated: Dec 18, 2013 01:45 IST

Will Aam Admi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal’s success in the Delhi elections magnify into making him a soulmate of the Muslim community?

The portents are clear enough.

Sometime before the recent assembly elections, a conclave was held in Jaipur and attended by opinion-makers from the Muslim community and some Congress members who were then ministers in the Rajasthan government.

As the political leaders started bragging about the welfare measures initiated by the Ashok Gehlot regime for the community, a person by the name Qari Moinudin rose and questioned the “apathy” of the Congress and its Muslim leaders in handling communal violence in places such as Gopalgarh. Though he dismissed the BJP as an alternative, he also wanted the Congress to be shown the mirror in public. Someone had then raised the question, “If we get killed in the Congress regime, is it salvation? If our life and property aren’t safe with the Congress, it doesn’t matter what happens to the Muslims and Congress.”

Is it here that the Aam Admi Party (AAP) emerges as an alternative?

Caught between the wave created by BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi and a decimated Congress, the Muslims are in a dire need of an alternative in the state. Both Milli Council leader Abdul Latif and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind secretary Mohammed Salim Engineer want to open a dialogue with Kejriwal in 2014.

“Kejriwal had visited our office in Delhi before the elections. We will again open a dialogue with him,” Salim said.

He said secularists would have to redraw their strategy for the Lok Sabha elections. “We don’t fear Modi but we don’t want him.” Latif said they would invite the AAP and extend full support. “People are angry with both Congress and BJP.”

According to him, the desire for an alternative has stemmed from the Congress complacency on security issues. According to him, even Congress legislators had censored Muslims. Two Muslims legislators were silenced by the leadership when they had mustered courage to protest in their constituencies after the Gopalgarh riots while a Meo leader was ‘advised’ to keep off from a hot spot.

M Hasan, a professor who had attended the Jaipur meeting, tried to be pragmatic. “Perhaps the time has come to admit there is a Modi wave and the fact that it will be difficult to change the course of the tide in six months.” However, he disagrees the Muslims supported the BJP in large numbers in the assembly polls — something that became the subject of speculation because of the victory of two Muslim candidates of the BJP and the defeat of the 12-odd fielded by the Congress.

Hasan is convening a meeting of prominent opinion-makers of his community in early January to discuss the AAP option.

In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, where Muslims have still not pardoned Congress for its silent role in the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992, in the past three days the Lucknow office of AAP has received 3,500 membership forms, of which 10% arse from the Muslim community.Vaibhan, an AAP volunteer in Lucknow, said, “We are flooded with requests to contest elections in UP, including those from young Muslims who want politics to go beyond religion.”

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