Muslim organisations largely greeted Narendra Modi’s formal anointing as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate as a blow to the coalition’s chances of forming a government both because of the communal taint attached to Modi and the difficulty the alliance will find with him at the helm to enrol new members. Even former Dar ul uloom Mohtamim Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, whose support for the Gujarat CM had cost him his job at Deoband, said Modi’s elevation would be the death knell for the NDA’s prospects.
However, at least one section of the community which is reluctant to come out in the open just yet, seems to be of the opinion that BJP’s fate depends on whether Modi chooses to portray his Hindutva poster boy image or that of the development messiah in the run up to the polls.
“Even if he manages 2% of the Muslim votes, it could be a game changer. But that can only happen if he chooses to talk about the things that have already created public mood against Congress — inflation, unemployment, price rise, lack of education. Modi can either play the polariser by pandering to Hindu sentiments alone or the unifier by talking about these issues,” said the leader of a prominent Muslim organisation with strong UP roots.
His is a lone voice. “There is nothing that Modi or BJP can do in the next seven months to earn the trust of Muslims. It would amount to rank foolishness to trust a man like Modi. His past shows what he really is and it suits a party like BJP that will stop at nothing to achieve power, to name him as the prime ministerial candidate,” says Asghar Ali Imam Mehendi, general secretary of Jamaat a Ahl e Hadees.
Vastanvi, a Gujarati cleric, had done a volte face ahead of last year’s Gujarat Assembly elections accusing Modi of discriminating against Muslims in the state. He maintains that stance now, citing IPS officer D G Vanzara’s resignation letter from prison to underline his belief that Muslims can never go with Modi.
Muslims’ distrust of Modi will not just limit BJP’s chances on the EVM, feels Jamaat e Islami Hind emir Maulana Jalaluddin Umri. It will also mean that in an age when absolute majorities are a thing of the past, BJP would find itself bereft of allies beyond the ones already in the NDA. Many regional parties like Trinamool, which