Muslims in Delhi are divided over participation in Narendra Modi’s rally on Sunday at north Delhi’s Rohini.
The Gujarat CM, who is also BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, is the mascot for the Delhi unit of the party in the upcoming assembly polls. Some of the recent rallies addressed by him across the country appeared to have attracted the community, which had so far kept its distance from him over the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Even as the city unit is expecting 20,000-odd Muslims to turn up for the rally, many Muslims in the Walled City — one of the areas in the Capital with a large concentration of the community — say they will not attend. But for those living in east Delhi’s Seelampur and Shahdara say they will participate in the rally.
“It will be like cheating the whole community if we go for the rally. They did not have the courage to organise the rally in Central Delhi as they knew there would be protests from the Muslims. Only those Muslims who are BJP workers will attend,” said Nimmi Quereshi, a resident of Old Delhi.
Matia Mahal MLA Shoaib Iqbal is planning to organise a protest march on the same day. “People here are looking for a change but that doesn’t mean we will vote for the BJP. Even if the BJP fields a Muslim candidate, we will vote for some other candidate as we cannot trust the party,” said Akram, who runs a restaurant in Jama Masjid area.BJP leaders said Muslim workers in areas such as Shahdara, Mustafabad, Madipur and Seelampur have been asked to mobilise support from the community and bring them to the rally venue. “Whatever happened is past and we are now looking for development. We will support a candidate who brings in development,” said Jalaluddin Ansari of Shahdara. Ansari said buses have been arranged to take at least 2,000 Muslims from Shahdara to Rohini.
“We have contributed money and arranged the buses. We are not forcing anyone to wear anything in particular,” Ansari said, referring to a recent Modi rally in which Muslims were reportedly asked to wear skull caps and burqas.