Opinion: Why is Modi sometimes hot and sometimes soft on Muslims in this election?

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
8 Min Read

Author: Hasan Suroor
Given his keen political acumen, it would be safe to assume that Prime Minister Narendra Modi must have been anticipating the backlash against his claim in a TV interview that he did not commit 'Hindu-Muslim'. At first glance, this was a bold claim, as the Bharatiya Janata Party's election campaign has been dominated by attacks on 'minority appeasement' (Muslim appeasement in political terms), some of the most aggressive claims of which were made by itself.

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This was particularly audacious as it came just weeks after his controversial speech in Banswara, Rajasthan on April 21, in which he accused the Congress of handing over the country's resources to 'baby boomers' and 'infiltrators'. Was accused of.

It was widely understood that this was a reference to Muslims, whom the BJP has consistently accused of having more children in an alleged conspiracy to tilt the demographic balance in its favour.

He said, 'Earlier when their government was in power, they had said that Muslims have the first right on the country's wealth. This means that after collecting this wealth, to whom will they distribute it? They will distribute it among those who have more children and among the infiltrators. Will your hard-earned money be given to the infiltrators? Do you accept this?'

He had also said, 'The Congress manifesto says that they will take stock of the gold of mothers and daughters and then distribute that wealth among those people about whom the Manmohan Singh government had said that Muslims have the 'first right on wealth'. Is. Brothers and sisters, this urban Naxalite thinking will not leave even the mangalsutra of my mothers and sisters.

Although he did not directly mention Muslims, when read along with 'will distribute those who have more children, will distribute infiltrators', it was an indirect reference to Muslims.

A prominent Muslim intellectual, who did not want to come out in the open, said: 'Even though some part of his speech in Banswara may have been lost in translation, it is not right to deny it outright.'

However, in one of his TV interviews, Modi insisted, 'I did not say Hindu or Muslim. I have said that you should have only as many children as you can support. Do not create such a situation that the government has to help.

When asked whether Muslims would vote for him, he said, 'I am confident that the people of my country will vote for me. The day I convert from Hindu to Muslim, I will not be able to live in public life. And I will not do Hindu-Muslim. This is my resolution.

Yet, as many happily pointed out, within 24 hours of his denial he came back to 'Hindu-Muslim' and said that when Congress was in power it had allocated 15% of the Union Budget exclusively for Muslims. Had spent. He had planned to spend on it, but abandoned it after opposition from his party.

What is special is that his comments have generated more enthusiasm among liberal Hindus than among Muslims, who have learned to take such things in stride. Most reacted with sarcastic smiles and shrugs.

Life in Gujarat

Meanwhile, for this writer, the most intriguing and interesting part of the interview was the extent to which Modi went to prove his closeness with Muslims as neighbours, friends and allies. He said he grew up among Muslims who lived side by side with Hindus and spent his early years interacting with Muslims almost every day.

He said, 'We celebrated all the festivals together. On the day of Eid, food was not cooked at our place, so most of the food came from our Muslim neighbours.

He recalled that he and other children enjoyed participating in the Tajiya procession on the day of Muharram. 'I have grown up in such an environment,' he said, speaking to Rubika Liaquat, an ardent Muslim female journalist.

Modi claimed that as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Muslims regularly thanked him for the work his government was doing to improve their lives.

Modi cited the example of Ahmedabad's famous Manek Chowk, which is a vegetable market in the morning, a bullion market in the afternoon and a busy road at night, describing it as an example of Hindu-Muslim harmony in Gujarat and yet the affection of the Muslim community. Critics' 'misinformation' turns into food market.

He said that following attempts to 'defame' him following the 2002 Gujarat riots, he ordered a survey of Muslim mood in Manek Chowk. He chose this area because of its unique mixed character.

He told, 'All the traders there are Muslims and all the buyers are Hindus. There is a crowd here during Diwali.

He said that the survey has shown that Muslims have deep faith in Modi. When the researchers provoked them to say something against Modi, they were asked to keep quiet.

The PM told about the results of the survey, 'They said don't say anything against Modi, otherwise your wife will not give you food at night. They are very happy that because of Modi our children are going to school, their life is getting better.

Almost 90% of the Muslim traders also belonged to this belief.

She also narrated an interesting incident of how a group of Muslim women had come to meet her. They thought she had come to complain about something. The PM said, 'But he said that we have come to greet you. I said I didn't do anything. But they said no, because of you we are getting regular and cheap electricity. He explained in detail how all this happened.

Such stories were used in interviews to make it clear that his 'anti-Muslim' image was far from the ground reality and had been created by his political enemies to weaken him.

How can a person who has grown up among Muslims be anti-Muslim?

In a way, he tried to say, 'If you doubt me, then ask the Muslims only.'

Certainly, this is not the last time we are hearing about 'Hindu-Muslim'. This is a topic of electoral controversy across India's political spectrum and unfortunately there is no way around it.

(These are the personal views of the author)

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