Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s refusal to wear the skull cap offered by a Muslim cleric on Sunday is being interpreted by party men as a shrewd political reflex.
According to some BJP leaders, Modi, does not wish to repeat the “mistake” LK Advani made during his visit to Pakistan as deputy prime minister in 2005. Advani had offered a chadar at the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and described the founder of Pakistan as a “secular” man and an “ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity”. A BJP minister said, “That episode ended Advani's credibility, so obviously Modi would not repeat such a mistake.”
Maulavi Sayed Imam, a cleric of a small dargah in Pirana village on the outskirts of the city, had got on to the stage to greet the CM, at Gujarat University Convention hall here. When he took out a skull cap from his pocket and offered it to Modi, the latter's expression changed in a flash.
Soon after, Modi was seen donning a green chadar offered by the maulvi, but not the cap. “Modi's refusal to accept the cap is not my insult but an insult of Islam,” Sayed said on Monday. “When I offered him the cap he told me that he would not wear it. He might have thought that wearing a skull cap will dent his image...," the cleric said.
Party spokesperson Vijay Rupani, however, said it was a “non-issue”. “Narendra Modi has clearly said that his policy is not of appeasement of a section of society unlike other parties, but our approach is for treating everyone as equal,” he added.
(with agency inputs)