Standing outside a glass and chrome building in the central business district of Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), just a stone’s throw where the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi’s held his rally, Muhammed Imran Shaikh looks despondent.
“Inflation and corruption are going through the roof,” said Shaikh, a resident of Cheeta Camp, who attended the Modi’s rally.
“We can’t afford running a household with prices skyrocketing,” said Shaikh, a hand-embroidery worker, who was among the 900-odd minority community residents of the area located in the armpits of the city in the eastern suburbs, who attended the rally.
The BJP had reached out to Muslims and minorities trying to ensure their presence at Modi’s first political rally in Mumbai after being nominated as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.
“We are not bothered who comes to power. We want a government which can reduce corruption and prices of essentials and lessen hardships for the poor,” he said, admitting that while India’s Muslims were desirous of political change and hence, likely to warm up to Modi, they were also wary of his record, considering the 2002 Gujarat riots.
“From Modi’s statements, we can sense a change. All governments in the past have only spoken of bettering the situation but have not done it,” said Shaikh, adding that the poor, who also included minorities, wanted better access to health, education, sanitation, employment opportunities and better living conditions.
“We are ready to give Modi an opportunity,” said Shaikh, adding that however, he was unsure if his community members shared his sentiments. “On the other hand, the Congress has done a lot for the country and made sacrifices including those of Mahatma Gandhi,” admitted Shaikh.
Sabina Sheikh, who came with her two daughters to the rally, too, was worried about the rising prices.
“We need a change. Every second day, prices of essential commodities are going up. It is becoming difficult for is to sustain day-to-day living,” said Sabina, wife of a daily wager.
“I agree with Modi that cost of living has gone up and that we need a new government. We should vote for development,” said Rubina Bano, a Kandivli resident.
A total of 1,500 residents from Cheeta Camp in Trombay attended the rally. Out of this, 800 were Muslims.
Cheeta Camp resident Mumtaz Qureshi was at BKC, hoping Modi would assure them of a better life.
“There is lot of corruption in the present government and in the last five years we have not seen our life improve. If Modi gives us better life, we will like to give him a chance but that will be strictly for development,” she added.