Washington, Mar. 6: Muslims in India are wary of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rise to power, according to an editorial in a US newspaper.
Mohammad Shakeel, a Muslim in India, said he remembered the past too well to support Modi.
The 44-year-old said that he voted in the past for Congress, but this time would vote for a regional party, adding that there were some concerns, even some fear, about what Modi will do to Muslims if he becomes prime minister.
According to the New York Times, disgust with the present government and disappointment with the Gandhi political dynasty are so widespread that Modi comes to the election with a huge advantage.
But the scale of his success depends in part on whether he can persuade Muslims to support his candidacy, which seems to be a difficult challenge, the report said.
Muslims make up about 14 percent of the country’s population, and they have been a crucial part of the support base of the governing party, Indian National Congress, for years.
According to the report, Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat State in 2002 riots. More than 1,000 people died, mostly Muslims.
Modi was never charged in connection with the riots, but some of his close associates were convicted of inciting violence.
The report said that Modi has also been linked with a police assassination squad that mostly targeted Muslims.
He has also spent much of his career rising through the ranks of a right-wing Hindu social organization tied to deadly attacks on Muslims.
Given this history, many Muslim leaders in India said they will neither forgive nor forget Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Shakeel Ahmad, chairman of the Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat, said that Modi’s political success resulted from demonizing Muslims, adding that Modi survives on hatred.
Top Bharatiya Janata Party officials have even suggested that the party could apologize to Muslims for past actions.
Modi’s efforts to remake his party into one friendlier towards Muslims could pay dividends with young voters, many of whom were children when the Bharatiya Janata Party undertook some of its most religiously divisive actions, the report added. (ANI)