Revival of Indian economy and overall development of the nation are what the muslims in the state are expecting from the Narendra Modi government despite widespread underlying fear of communal polarization.
Apprehensions yet a hope for a better tomorrow, cautious yet hopeful approach mark the foray of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) into Bengal’s muslim community.
A young muslim journalist who spoke on the condition of anonymity said “Many muslims are now joining BJP. There might be a pressure from RSS for him to act in certain communal ways but I don’t think he can afford to do that as, now, he is leading the nation and not just a state. Furthermore, BJP in Bengal has secured only 17 per cent of vote whereas we form 30 per cent of Bengal’s population. BJP would strive for more in the state. I believe Modi will really take everybody along for the development of the country”.
Sadiq Husain, an IT professional, is equally hopeful, “We need a government which will steer Indian towards its economic recovery. Modi has done a good job in Gujarat, despite his alleged involvement in Gujarat riots.” It is these hopeful voices that account for the 9 per cent of vote that BJP garnered from Indian muslims.
Ms Nasmin Choudhury, a development worker with an NGO in the city, however feels ‘vulnerable because of her muslim identity’ as she believes that Modi’s connection with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and his past will make him act as an agent of communal polarization and strip the secular fabric of the Indian society. She, further, believes that much discussed ‘Gujarat model’ is a catch.
“The ‘Gujarat Model’ is a gimmick. I have been there in 2007 and seen no such evidence of positive change during my 45 days of travel in to villages and urban pockets. Only by opening up Indian market to foreign investors will not revive and strengthen my country’s economy. We have lots of small scale industries and artisans and skilled people who need support. Our agriculture sector and farmers need support and I believe this will be more effective to revive my country’s economy.” said Ms Choudhury.
Maulana Barkati, Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan mosque, voiced similar concern saying that Modi would disrupt the communal harmony of the Indian society.
“He will wipe out Islam and destroy secularism in a bid to construct Hindu Rashtra” said the Shahi Imam.
Rahul Sinha, State President BJP, said that several muslims have joined BJP post-election and many more are coming too and in “two years there will be BJP rule in Bengal”.
He also said that BJP has been painted in communal light by the opposition, hence fear factor exists in certain sections of the muslim community.
“Lack of education and poverty are responsible for the sorry state of the muslims in the state. We demand and work for modernization of Madrassah education system in the state. Inclusion of subjects like Mathematics, Science, History, Geography will integrate the Madrassah system into the mainstream education system which will help muslims fare better in the professional sector. Vocational training, assistance in getting hassle-free loan will also be initiated to further facilitate them. ” said Mr Sinha.
It is a matter of time to see with such measures can BJP really garner more support from the Bengal’s muslim community before the civic polls in 2015.