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Raheel Dhattiwala

Raheel Dhattiwala, a Public Policy Scholar at The Hindu Centre, is a doctoral student of sociology at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. She was formerly a journalist with The Times of India in Ahmedabad.

raheel.dhattiwala@gmail.com

BJP and Muslims: The Gujarat Riddle

Raheel Dhattiwala
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  • Muslims presenting a cheque for Rs 21000/- to Gujarat Chief Minister during his
    Muslims presenting a cheque for Rs 21000/- to Gujarat Chief Minister during his "Sadbhavna Mission" fast in Godhra in 2012. Photo: PTI
  • Members of People’s Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) and victims of 2002 Gujarat riots raises voices ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Godhra riots in Ahmedabad. Photo: PTI
    Members of People’s Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) and victims of 2002 Gujarat riots raises voices ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Godhra riots in Ahmedabad. Photo: PTI
  • Gujarat riot survivors (L to R) Rupaben Modi, Farzana Shaikh, Shakila Pathan, Jannatbi Shaikh and Sairaben at a Press Conference in Mumbai on March 23, 2011. Photo: Vivek Bendre
    Gujarat riot survivors (L to R) Rupaben Modi, Farzana Shaikh, Shakila Pathan, Jannatbi Shaikh and Sairaben at a Press Conference in Mumbai on March 23, 2011. Photo: Vivek Bendre
  • Narendra Modi appears after interrogation by a panel investigating a crime related to the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Photo: AP/Ajit Solanki
    Narendra Modi appears after interrogation by a panel investigating a crime related to the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Photo: AP/Ajit Solanki

This article explores the puzzle of the BJP Muslim supporter in Gujarat. Based on nearly two years of research in Ahmedabad city, Raheel Dhattiwala flags the crucial distinction between supporting a political party in public and voting for it. She examines the transformation in behaviour of the Sunni Muslim voter in Gujarat since 2009 and explores different motivations leading to their support of the BJP and Chief Minister Narendra Modi, despite many acknowledging the role of the party and its leaders in the massacres of Muslims in 2002.

The impressive performance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the recent assembly elections in four States has refreshed our memories of a question that lingered on in our minds after the Gujarat assembly elections in 2012: are Muslims voting for the BJP? Another way to ask the question is - Why would victims of brutal violence embrace their own perpetrators?

It was in Gujarat in 2009 that the BJP-Muslim question first took shape and holds more relevance now than ever before given the elevation of its Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the country’s potential prime minister. That was the year when the BJP, since they assumed power in the State in 1995, began a historic rapprochement with the Sunni Muslims of Gujarat providing them political representation in the State party: between 2009 and 2013 (with the exception of the assembly elections in 2012), the BJP nominated 297 Muslim candidates – many Sunnis – for various local body elections of which 142 (48 per cent) won.

Almost simultaneously, Sunni Muslims had seemed to mellow their antipathy towards the BJP. This was a remarkable development when seen in perspective of the brutal massacres of Muslims in 2002 during the BJP regime under Mr. Modi. Although until 2009, around 6-8 per cent of Gujarat Muslims had voted for the BJP in Gujarat, these voters belonged primarily to the mercantile Shia Muslim sect, Dawoodi Bohras in particular, who form less than 1 per cent of the Muslim population in Gujarat. They have traditionally lent support to the party in power, be it Congress or BJP, motivated by favourable state patronage. But for the Sunnis, a BJP supporter in the community was perceived as a defector and support for the BJP, if at all, was tacit.

The reasons behind the BJP’s volte-face in Gujarat were less evident at the time given that the Muslim vote at 9.1% continued to remain inconsequential for the Gujarat BJP. The most cogent explanation was Modi’s aspiration of an elevated position in the 2014 general elections, which could not be achieved without the support of Muslim electors in States outside Gujarat. Indeed, this makes much more sense now.

What continues to perplex is the behaviour of the Muslim voter. Whether one chooses to debate the role of the ruling BJP in supporting anti-Muslim violence in 2002, what is central is that a large section of Muslims continue to acknowledge the BJP and its affiliates in the Sangh Parivar as complicit in the riots.

From Perpetrator to Benefactor

Just how visible is this transformation in the Sunni Muslim voter? Not too long ago, in early 2009, a Sunni cleric from Ahmedabad, Mufti Shabbir Sidiqqui, had called the government appointment of a Dawoodi Bohra police officer as the head of Gujarat police a foil to display a secular ideology, “like appointing Muslims as Presidents of India in the past to keep the community happy”. Less than a year after the BJP’s purported reconciliation with Muslim electors, a tangible surge in BJP Muslim supporters became evident. Salim, a follower of Tabligh – an orthodox Deobandi revivalist movement -- told me a few weeks before the municipal corporation elections in Ahmedabad in October 2010: “There is no shame today in supporting Modi. BJP is Allah. Allah ke sivay aur kaun hai? (Who else do we have other than Allah?)” During elections in Ahmedabad there were many more like Salim. Dressed simultaneously in Islamic attire and saffron bandanas they professed their hope in the BJP, especially in Modi: “So what if he presided over the violence. Uski dahshat hai (he commands fear); he can get anything done,” said Salman, an auto rickshaw driver. Many others denied the presence of residential segregation of Hindus and Muslims in Ahmedabad, calling it a “matter of choice”. This was in contrast to my interviews as a journalist with Muslims in 2005 and 2006 who resented the discrimination of Muslims in residential ownership and tenancy of properties in upmarket areas of Ahmedabad.

The BJP’s unexpected denial of tickets to Muslim candidates in the 2012 assembly elections indeed came as a sign of ‘betrayal’ for a section of recent BJP Muslim supporters. But the discomfiture usually lasted less than two minutes for “the BJP is the only alternative despite the reality that the party could organise anti- Muslim riots again”.

The BJP’s unexpected denial of tickets to Muslim candidates in the 2012 assembly elections indeed came as a sign of ‘betrayal’ for a section of recent BJP Muslim supporters. But the discomfiture usually lasted less than two minutes for “the BJP is the only alternative despite the reality that the party could organise anti- Muslim riots again”.

Public support of the Sunni Muslim voter on the streets of Ahmedabad had increased substantively by 2012, matched by the party’s acceptance among Sunni Muslim clerics nationally. Recall the ouster of Maulana Vastanvi, the rector of India’s leading seminary in Deoband, in 2009 for his public support of Modi’s economic policies. In October this year, Mahmood Madani the general secretary of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, instrumental in ousting Vastanvi, commended the Gujarat leadership for its inclusive treatment of Muslims in the State.

The Gujarat phenomenon is rare in conflict-ridden democracies. Sri Lankan Tamils, for example, have refused to bow down to the incumbent government during recent elections despite the latter’s claims of having provided inclusive economic development. Of course, one is tempted to draw an analogy with Sikhs of Delhi after the horrific massacres in 1984. Like the Muslims in Gujarat, the Sikhs did vote for the Congress in the 1990s despite having blamed the party earlier for the 1984 pogrom. But there are differences between the two cases. First, unlike the antipathy of Gujarat (Sunni) Muslims for the BJP, the Sikhs were never averse to voting for the Congress even before 1984. A majority of Sunni Muslims of Gujarat had always perceived the BJP as an ideologically non-pluralist party, particularly antagonistic towards Muslims – the violence in 2002 reinforced this perception for many. Second, no explicit apology has been tendered by the Gujarat BJP to Muslims unlike the Congress to the Sikhs – Modi’s “anguish” at the violence, expressed on his recent blog, does not replace an apology to the Muslims who bore the brunt of the massacres. So the question arises: can the BJP’s political strategy to provide representation to Muslims explain why a Sunni Muslim voter would support a fellow Muslim – or, in case of the 2012 assembly elections, a Hindu -- favouring a Hindu nationalist party that has refused to apologise for the 2002 violence?

Exploring Motivations of the BJP Muslim Party Member and Party Supporter

Two popular explanations for the BJP-Muslim question currently exist. First, the BJP’s relatively equitable economic development in Gujarat in the last decade. Second, its riot-free governance. As I show in an earlier article in The Hindu, the attacks on Muslims after the death of Hindus on the Sabarmati Express were not spontaneous but organised. It follows that within the current political circumstances, allowing a trigger to develop into a full-blown riot makes little electoral sense in the State. What is worth discussing here is the explanation of equitable economic development. For this overarching term to make analytical sense, it needs to be broken down to the level of the individual voter. Whereas economic benefits mattered for the individual respondents I interviewed, notably, there were differences in the motivation to support the BJP for those Muslims who had joined the party as members, from those who were supporters/campaigners for the party.

Suraiyya, a resident of the dismal Bombay Hotel slum in eastern Ahmedabad, was one such party member. She had moved to the safety of this neighbourhood in 2002 following more than one attack in her old neighbourhood of Bapunagar. In 2012, her reasons to fear for her life were no longer riots but the civic conditions of her infamous neighbourhood, situated contiguous to the city’s official municipal sewage farm. She had recently joined the BJP as a party member. “Do we have a choice? We don’t want to keep drinking yellow water and die of dengue…”

It was interesting that Suraiyya chose to join the party rather than simply vote in its favour, for, surely, voting by itself would have given her access to the facilities she desired. Suraiyya was candid: “I want to earn money by helping people.” Suraiyya fit the typical ‘intermediary’ or ‘broker’ – local individuals who facilitate access of patronage-based State resources between citizens and the State. In turn she earned not only monetary benefits from the residents but also a positive social identity within the community. This patron-client form of resource access can dictate political preferences, especially for the extremely poor whose daily survival is a never-ending ordeal and for whom direct access to State resources is nearly impossible.

Suraiyya’s sentiments were reflected in the words of other Muslim BJP party workers I met. Notably, although they praised the BJP for its economic policies, none claimed to have directly benefited from them. Aslam, a local BJP leader, spoke of “indirect” benefits – housing developed to rehabilitate all slum dwellers displaced by a city development project, in keeping with a Gujarat High Court order, had also benefited Muslims. These recent members of the BJP were aware that their aspirations to becoming a successful intermediary were possible only within the ambit of an incumbent party with the potential to remain in power for a long period of time.

“We Muslims first believe in nation, that’s what Islam also says… to get rid of our anti-national image we have to be with the BJP. What has the Congress done except breed goons and use Muslims to sell illicit liquor?”

Apart from access to State resources, political patronage was important also for access to security – not physical security during future violence alone but also security from assertions of anti-national activity. It was this motivation that primarily distinguished the Muslim BJP supporter/campaigner from the party member. Mohammed Umar, a fruit vendor in Ahmedabad, gave me his reasons for shifting allegiance from the Congress to the BJP: “We Muslims first believe in nation, that’s what Islam also says… to get rid of our anti-national image we have to be with the BJP. What has the Congress done except breed goons and use Muslims to sell illicit liquor?” Dressed in white Islamic attire, complete with skullcap, moustache and an unruly beard – a stereotype of the Congress voter – Mohammed Umar’s words implied the preference of social acceptance over patronage benefits or a political career. Remarkably, his new-found faith in the BJP had not overlapped with his orthodox religiosity. It suggested rather reconciliation with the possibility of the BJP retaining power in the near future and the subsequent need to forsake the anti-national image by gaining social approval of the majority. The other frequently cited reason was strategic. Maqsood and his mother had decided to support the BJP following official delimitation of constituency boundaries that changed the electoral salience of their vote: “We are no longer in a Muslim constituency… Muslim voters now are merely 5,000. Nobody among Hindus votes for the Congress so why should we?” Note that the voting preferences of many Muslims was based on the (incorrect) assumption that all Hindus vote for the BJP.Above all, what clearly distinguished the BJP Muslim public supporters as well as party members from their Congress counterparts was the individual’s personal experience of the violence in 2002. This makes intuitive sense if we consider the rationale that an individual who has lost a family member to the violence is unlikely to find an equivalent replacement in the present and can be expected to be more resentful of the perpetrator. Idris, a doctor in Ahmedabad who was left for dead in 2002 alongside his murdered brother, refused to support the BJP when I met him in 2010: “Those Muslims who support the BJP are traitors!” It was much the same for poor Muslims who had lost members of their family to violence.

Do these testimonies suffice to explain why the Muslim in Gujarat is supporting the BJP? Perhaps so, although they are not sufficient to show that those who support the BJP – be it as party members or public supporters – vote for the party as well. Anonymous referendum implies there is no possible way to determine who voted for whom. Meticulous survey methods or analyses of booth-level voting data are the best alternatives even though one can only draw tentative inferences from these methods.

Next I will take a closer look at the difficulties in drawing conclusions of voting behaviour from constituency-level data, how inferences drawn from a preliminary booth analysis suggests the possibility of higher Muslim BJP support in public than on the secret ballot, and the implications of this paradoxical behaviour within a democratic system. I have already explored the various motivations of Sunni Muslims in Ahmedabad for supporting/campaigning for the BJP or joining it as party members. Whereas access to State-based provisions was a primary reason for supporting and, indeed, joining the party, a keen desire for societal acceptance also motivated the supporters to voice their approval of the party in power. This raises the question whether voting for the BJP was at all essential if supporters, especially party members, were already being rewarded beforehand – monetarily or by elevation of social status.

In this section, I examine the difficulty in disentangling public liking for a party/candidate from voting for the same party/candidate. A preliminary analysis of polling booth data of 12 booths in Ahmedabad city highlights the paradox of Muslim support for the BJP. Findings from the booth analysis suggest that the proportion of Muslims voting for the BJP is likely to be much less than their apparent support in public for the party or its leaders. The figure of 8% to 9% is not much different from BJP Muslim voting figures cited by observers in previous elections. I explain this in detail below.

Public versus Electoral Support

When we use the term “support”, it could mean either proclaiming in public a liking for a political party (or its leaders) and/or voting for the party. It is possible that a Muslim who shows public liking for a party also votes for it but that may not always be true. Secrecy of the ballot ensures one does not know who voted whom. Indeed, anonymous referendum also means that testimonies collected during ethnographic fieldwork may often be insufficient to disentangle public support from electoral support. As Shazia, a Congress campaigner in Ahmedabad, told me discreetly in 2012: “I am representing the Congress but voted for the independent candidate (names him)… how would anyone know?”

Following the BJP’s victory in the 2010 municipal elections across Gujarat, Modi declared: “Over 30% Muslims have voted for us”. Then in 2012, the BJP claimed to have won in 24 constituencies where Muslim electorate was 15% or higher. How certain can one be of these figures? A simple numerical illustration will help.

Suppose that a polling booth has 100 voters. Of these, 60 are Hindus and 40 Muslims. Suppose further that the local BJP candidate has attained 50 votes in this booth. Secret ballot ensures we cannot identify who all among the voters voted for the BJP candidate.

Hypothetically therefore, two scenarios are possible:

1. All of the 40 Muslims voted for the BJP candidate. Even so, at least (50-40) i.e. 10 Hindus (16.66%) voted for the BJP candidate.

2. All 50 votes to the BJP candidate were cast by Hindus. This means at the most 50 out of the 60 Hindus (83.33%) voted for the BJP candidate.

What follows is that, hypothetically, it is possible that every single Muslim voted for the BJP candidate. But it is equally possible that none of the Muslims voted for him. The same way, a number of arrangements are possible, including the equiprobability of 25 Hindus and 25 Muslims voting for the BJP. Point is, one cannot be sure of the proportion. Indeed, using aggregate-level (constituency) data to make inferences about the behaviour of individuals can lead to spurious conclusions or an ‘ecological fallacy’. Even from booth-level analysis we can only obtain upper and lower bounds on voting patterns. In the above-illustrated case, we can infer that Muslim support for the BJP candidate was between 0 to 100% and Hindu support for the candidate was between 16.6% to 83.3%.

However, the more homogeneous the polling booth in terms of religious composition, the tighter the bounds. If the above polling booth had 90 Muslims and 10 Hindus, we can hypothetically draw the inference – using the same logic as above – that 44% to 55% Muslims voted for the BJP candidate.

Of course, the first and foremost challenge is to identify the religion of electors in each polling booth. These figures are not publicly released by the Indian government and one needs to come up with resourceful methods of estimation – usually from electoral rolls and name recognition software. All these factors show how difficult it is to estimate voting behaviour from constituency-level data. An analysis of a larger sample of polling booth data is currently underway as part of my research project at The Hindu Centre.

Now the crucial question arises: why this contradiction in behaviour? Plausibly, the explanation is linked to a rather everyday experience in our lives – anxiety (or dissonance) over choices we make or the values we cherish. For example, I know caste discrimination is wrong but I still hesitate to allow my daughter marrying into a lower caste. These are contrasting thoughts, which are likely to cause psychological discomfort leading to my attempts to reduce the discomfort either by concealing my true beliefs or acquiring a new piece of knowledge that might justify my hesitation to allow the inter-caste marriage. For instance, if a relative convinces me of the immense social ostracism I’d be preventing for my family by forbidding such a marriage, I would willingly adjust my original beliefs. Similarly, it is possible that for a Muslim, who believed that the BJP is an anti-Muslim party, the new knowledge of the BJP’s inclusive measure to represent Muslims in the party could be inconsistent with the awareness that the BJP is anti-Muslim. If this Muslim individual chooses to support the BJP for potential economic gains expressing his original private belief might now invite social disapproval from the majority Hindus for opposing an inclusive government and from his own community for opposing a government that seeks to make amends and provide benefits. The inability to express oneself truthfully alters our private preferences to avoid social disapproval and, subsequently, concealment of misgivings. Thus a Muslim would overtly express his nationalism or mute any contrary views (e.g. denial of segregation). This is more likely for religious Muslims – especially those with visible religious signs, which increase their vulnerability to being identified as orthodox Muslims. A rise in Muslims publicly supporting the BJP would increase the overall pressure among other Muslims to find social approval, thereby leading them to support the BJP. Therefore, it is possible that Muslims residing in intermixed neighbourhoods (than in a Muslim ghetto) are more likely to support the BJP in public and less electorally because of the high social pressure to conform to the public discourse. The concept of dissonance and its reduction have been discussed at length in the works of social psychologists like Leon Festinger and political scientists like Timur Kuran.

Anthropologist James Scott’s work on the language of power relationships is also a plausible explanation to the contradictory behaviour of Muslims. Scott speaks of the ‘hidden’ transcript’ –the language of the dominant and the subjugated which occurs in private. Contrary to the idea of hegemony the hidden transcript suggests a parallel nonconformist subculture, albeit outside the gaze of political power, that allows the subjugated to fulfil their own personal goals. In case of Muslims, the vocal support for the BJP is analogous to the public transcript and anonymous secret ballot to the hidden transcript.

My ongoing work at The Hindu Centre is to examine a larger sample of homogeneous polling booths with variation on class, exposure to violence and proportion of Muslims to explain this puzzling phenomenon.

Names of respondents are anonymised

(Raheel Dhattiwala, a Public Policy Scholar at The Hindu Centre, is a doctoral student of sociology at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. She was formerly a journalist with The Times of India in Ahmedabad.)

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Narendra Modi's recent speeches are only centred on development, and not unity, safety or security.

from:  Kaleem
Posted on: Jan 24, 2014 at 14:15 IST

A really insightful article on the puzzle.

from:  Ankit Rathore
Posted on: Jan 24, 2014 at 00:16 IST

Very thoughtful article, though there could be disputes on some finding. Assuming that there has been economic and infrastructural development in Gujarat and the Muslim also gained to some extend from such development, the larger issue is whether development can subsume the need for security and inclusiveness. For the present feeling of insecurity and fear felt by Muslims, their pre-independent leaders continue to be responsible. In the case of Gujarat, Muslims may feel the TINA (There is no alternative) factor or even Stockholm syndrome, but for Muslims outside Gujarat, particular for those who live in comparative comfort of security and well being, Modi, more than BJP, will continue to be a serious threat and great cause of apprehension.

from:  Abdul Hameed
Posted on: Jan 23, 2014 at 10:06 IST

This is very interesting reading. The author goes to great lengths talking about the views of Sunni Muslims in Gujarat. I am not sure if the Shias form the majority and therefore this is a minority view. In any case, the approach of Modi towards the Sunnis seems to work. It is good to know that Sunnis wish to move on and not dwell on 2002. But, recent revelations of fake encounters and illegal surveillance puts into doubt Sunnis' willingness to accept these from Modi. At a broader level, it is indeed a good development, if the author reflects the views of a majority of muslims.

from:  Sridhar
Posted on: Jan 22, 2014 at 06:16 IST

If we dig into the life of a person, we usually find that to overcome the humble status one is born or thrust into earlier in life, that person will take the path of least resistance if he strives to attain a higher one. Here, one of the easier ways is to regiment oneself into a cadre which is looking to improve its numbers along with providing a facade. This blinkers the person to restrict any visual other than what one sees within the sphere of light at the end of the tunnel. Steadfast progress towards the source of light will make objects appear dazzling. This will encourage the person to reach the mouth of the tunnel, The release one feels on reaching the mouth of the tunnel will overcome all feelings of hopelessness and despair. One cannot expect this person to rescue or even interfere in any matter contrary to what his guiding light stands for. Only history can depict the wrong turn of events that led to death and destruction.

from:  Raj Dhillon
Posted on: Jan 21, 2014 at 06:38 IST

I shifted from Times of India to The Hindu to find some useful and/or truthful news. But here also, it's the same. I was born in Uttar Pradesh but have spent most of my life in Gujarat. Modi has done a lot for the State, like no other Chief Minister in its history. In all such articles, you see personal beliefs of reporters coming into the picture, overlooking the reality. No matter what all you guys write, those who believe in the success of Gujarat and India will continue to be on side of Modi.

from:  SKD
Posted on: Jan 20, 2014 at 10:41 IST

If today India is a conglomeration of different faiths and cultures, it was destined to be so. But it's a pity that even after cohabiting this ancient land for countless years we have failed to live with dignity. We Indians are so divided. Also with time, Muslims in India are themselves so divided that not a single national leader has risen to the occasion post-Independence.

from:  Sadique
Posted on: Jan 19, 2014 at 19:40 IST

Insightful article on the political and social dynamics of Gujarat. However, with increasingly used development and good governance rhetoric called by political parties at the "cost of reliable alternatives" there is no choice for the minority groups but to embrace them.

from:  Subba B
Posted on: Jan 19, 2014 at 15:23 IST

@ Kalpin Patel "And now Muslims have realized that Modi is not against peaceful people of any religion but only against anti-social elements". But those who were killed in Gujarat in 2002 riots are not anti-nationals or anti-social elements; they were innocent Hindus and Muslims. But Narendra Modi has no regrets over the killings.

from:  K.J.Haroon Basha
Posted on: Jan 18, 2014 at 23:47 IST

Analysis is good and appreciated, but the best outcome will be when all the poor and powerless people of India are able to make choices based on who best fights for their needs and welfare. Muslim voters' behaviour is definitely changing, but they are still far from the ideal situation where they vote as individuals for candidates of their choice rather than vote as a community for or against a particular party. I am hopeful that in next 2-3 decades the two communities will find actual amity with each other and not the forced enmity via political alignments.

from:  Vandana
Posted on: Jan 18, 2014 at 19:22 IST

Let me tell you why more and more people including Muslims are inclining towards Modi. It is only human to wish to live in peace and improve your quality of life. There was a time when there were frequent riots in Gujarat, leading to curfews and loss of lives and property of people of all religions. Mr. Modi has ensured peace (cynics call it oppression), which has handsomely rewarded all peace-loving, business-minded people of Gujarat. The fruits of growth and peace are enjoyed by all communities, not just by Hindus. And now Muslims have realized that Modi is not against peaceful people of any religion but only against anti-social elements, which they have no sympathy for (and that is how it should be)! You have missed the larger picture, because you are looking too closely.

from:  Kalpin Patel
Posted on: Jan 18, 2014 at 11:07 IST

A Good Insight to Gujrat. Narendra Modi's 'My way or the highway' is the truth. They really have no option to support anyone else. Hope Aam Admi Party (AAP) makes a difference but they seem too immature and non-democratic as of now. I sincerely hope AAP would sort out issues and rid India out of this caste,religion,corruption-based politics and cleanse the system.

from:  Sadiq
Posted on: Jan 18, 2014 at 10:25 IST

Even the mainstream media has understood that howling over the same thing - which is not a fact - gets you low Television Rating Points (TRPs) because people can read through it. If The Hindu cannot post something positive then stop publishing negative articles like this. Since Muslims support the BJP, many parties do not want their loyal vote base to be shifted, so such articles come about even though it is in contempt of the Supreme Court. If all this were true then the Central Government would have got some proof to end the so called misery. Why not write about something that has done good for the same community by the same government? Why not write about Kashmiri Pandits massacred in Kashmir, Sikhs massacred in '84, Hindus massacred in Assam?

from:  Sneha Rao
Posted on: Jan 18, 2014 at 08:05 IST

There is a very simple analysis based on Gujarat's assembly election commission voting statistics. BJP got 50 per cent of the vote in 2002 - one can assume few Muslims voted for BJP then. BJP only got 48 per cent of the votes in 2012, or 2 per cent less. On this basis, one would have to assume a decline in Hindu support before any significant Muslim support can be attributed to the BJP. Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) got 3.6 per cent of the vote in 2012. Assuming this was previously the BJP vote, then one can assume 48 + 3.6 - 50 or 1.6 per cent were new BJP voters relative to 2002. Given Muslims are roughly 9 per cent of Gujarat, and assuming the 1.6 per cent increase were all Muslim votes, then BJP got about 18 per cent (1.6/9) of the Muslim vote. However, it is quite possible that some (or even an overwhelming portion) of the 1.6 per cent increase were Hindu votes. In that case, the share of Muslims voting for BJP would be lower. To summarize, my analysis suggests 0 per cent to 18 per cent of Muslims voted for the BJP in Gujarat in 2012. Would be interested in Raheel's thoughts on this approach. Thanks.

from:  Indian
Posted on: Jan 18, 2014 at 03:15 IST

Its really pitiful for uneducated sections of our society who feel that the condition of Muslims is pathetic in Gujarat. Sometimes power is required to suppress negative freedoms. For sure, everybody (both Hindus and Muslims) enjoy peace. I'm a Gujarati Muslim presently living in UK. I feel really proud on the improved socio-economic conditions of my State.

from:  Altaf
Posted on: Jan 18, 2014 at 00:12 IST

@Intekhab, I second your thought. Someone's tragedy has become thesis work for some people, to share their intellect, build a profile of left-leaning intellect, etc. What we simply need is people who will help society to recover from damage by some method or another. Democracy is another form of mobocracy, when majority has chosen to marginalise the minority or remain indifferent to their pain. Nothing much can be done by displaying facts and figures. Only thing that is progressive is stopping it by some way.

from:  Arif
Posted on: Jan 17, 2014 at 22:05 IST

Bohras do not form 1 per cent of the 'Muslim population of Gujarat'. Bohra population in Gujarat is around 7 lakhs, which is more than 1 per cent of total population, or say more than 10 per cent of the Muslim population.

from:  Arif
Posted on: Jan 17, 2014 at 21:49 IST

In my opinion, The Hindu must not waste time in researching facts like this which are of no use to the public. Being one of the most respected newspapers in India, they should focus more on the problems that the nation is facing today. Publish a better article which can create harmony between Hindus and Muslims, rather than exploring why Muslims are in harmony with Hindus.

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Jan 17, 2014 at 11:29 IST

The pathetic position of Gujarati Muslims remind me of the dialogue of Gabbar in Sholay. 'Only one person can save you from the wrath of Gabbar, only Gabbar.'

from:  S.J.Akhtar
Posted on: Jan 16, 2014 at 19:12 IST

I don't understand why there is so much body of work being produced on Gujarat riots. People are tired of reading reports, articles, opinion on this sad event in the history of India. Though the article is well-researched and objectively analyzed, there will hardly be any impact in mending the relationship between Hindus and Muslims. Such reports is of no relevance in today's context. Who in India or anywhere else in the world does not know about the complicity of Gujarat government in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom? But despite this knowledge the support for Modi is growing across India. So, talking of truth and justice is different from following by oneself. It's futile to invest so much time and effort on getting to the truth on something which is already a forgone conclusion. The world knows it.

from:  Intekhab
Posted on: Jan 16, 2014 at 18:50 IST

It is good article, but I don't understand the reason why the media always talks only about Muslims when it talks of riots, it can be any riot, not particularly 2002 and Gujarat. Is it that only minorities get killed during these riots and none from majority get killed? Or does it mean it is the majority community who always starts the riot? Stop demonizing us.

from:  Sandeep
Posted on: Jan 16, 2014 at 13:29 IST

The writer's effort to resolve the riddle of Muslims' support to BJP in Gujarat is really appreciable. The author has identified factors such as equitable economic development, urge to avail better civic facilities, zest for social approval etc. for such support. But, the real reason is nothing but the fear psychosis, insecurity and helplessness prevailing among the Muslims under Modi's regime. Perhaps, the words of Salim, Salam and Mohammed Ummar reflected this truth.. After all, ' BJP is the Allah, Who else do we have other than Allah?----he (Modi) can get anything done. " Their words are true: with State institutions and super-structures dancing to his tune, he can do anything against Muslims!'Equally pertinent are the words of Ummar; ' What the Congress has done?" With their pseudo-secular image and 'vote-bank-politics', Gujarat Congress was all along passive in denouncing the genocide. Only NGOs/ activists were in the forefront taking up the case of victims.

from:  K V Thomas
Posted on: Jan 16, 2014 at 13:07 IST

Couldn't understand the purpose of the article and benefit it is providing to the nation. This kind of argument in view of religious angle will lead to division. Journalism looking in to society divisions will lead in to further divisions. Better concentrate on how we unite people and how we send positive messages to people and what makes Gujaratis even after so much divisive campaign stand united. Look in to the needs of the society, not in view of political games. Journalism should have a new purpose.

from:  GLNMurthy
Posted on: Jan 16, 2014 at 08:49 IST

"To get rid of our (Muslims) anti-national image we (Muslims) have to be with the BJP." A very ridiculous statement. Are all other political parties in India anti-national? Why should a son of soil, a patriotic Indian Muslim need the stamp of BJP to prove his patriotism? Does the author indirectly say that the majority Hindus, who are not affiliated to BJP, are anti-nationals?

from:  K.J.Haroon Basha
Posted on: Jan 16, 2014 at 01:47 IST

To use and misuse the religious term as their tram card in vote bank policy is not new in our country. Narendra Modi has not made any difference in that matter. They would bite the dust to improve the condition. No politician has done any good thing for their manifesto. Everyone's busy doing one's politics, and Mr. Modi, the BJPs Prime Ministerial candidate is not a exception.....

from:  Anindya Acharya
Posted on: Jan 15, 2014 at 21:31 IST
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