With Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi visiting Mumbai this month for the first time after being anointed as the party’s prime ministerial nominee, the BJP is planning a high minority turnout at his ‘Maha Garjana’ rally.
BJP leaders said they were planning a separate enclosure for minorities at the rally for them to be noticed.
Modi will address people and the BJP’s booth-level workers at the meeting to be held in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) on December 22, where party president Rajnath Singh and state leaders will also be present.
The BJP believes that Modi’s combination of Hindutva and development, combined with the leg-up to his campaign because of electoral victories in the four state assemblies, will propel the party to power in 2014.
Mumbai BJP vice-president Haji Hyder Azam, a former chief of the minority front, said they were visiting Muslim areas and meeting other minority communities, such as Christians, to ensure a significant turnout from them. “We have been getting a good response, especially from Muslim women and youth who want a change by electing Narendra Modi as the prime minister,” Azam told dna, claiming that the minority presence “would be huge”.
“People are turning to the BJP and Modi due to the development in Gujarat,” he claimed. Azam added they would have separate seating arrangement for minorities at the rally for them to stand out in the crowd.
“The Congress has only destroyed the Muslims,” alleged Azam, pointing to how the Justice Rajinder Sacchar Committee report had pointed to the extent of backwardness among Muslims.
“Muslims question why a report was needed to affirm something which was already conspicuous,” charged Azam, accusing the Congress of “playing vote bank politics” without bettering the conditions of the Muslims. He added that Muslim-dominated areas lacked basic amenities, like toilets for women and hospitals, apart from branches of nationalised banks and educational institutions. Muslim youth also lacked education and jobs.
“Riots have been happening in India... including in Maharashtra. This is not the first riot in the country,” said Azam, when asked about contentions that the 2002 Gujarat riots may lead to Muslim voters polarising in favour of the Congress. “Muslims from Gujarat — Bohris and Memons — lead in business compared with other states,” said Azam, adding that no riots had occurred in Gujarat after 2002.