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Madhya Pradesh 2013 Elections: Can BJP Garner Muslim Votes?

October 25, 2013

Watching the media spokespersons of political parties airing their views on whether Muslims will vote for Narendra Modi in 2014 tickles our mind with another obvious question – How much Muslim support would BJP receive in the upcoming Madhya Pradesh assembly elections? In the case of Gujarat, Modi’s prospect of getting minority votes is gauged by some predefined factors such as Gujarat riots, economic empowerment, image-building exercise, and his pro-secular rhetoric at the public meetings. In Madhya Pradesh, the conclusion can’t be drawn in simple terms. However, there is a clear stratification of views.

A motley of interpretations emerges when discussing Modi’s equation with the Muslims. There’s similar dichotomy in Mr. Shivraj Chauhan’s current standing. Since nonpartisan views are hard to come by, let’s lend our ears to both sides of the argument.

BJP exudes confidence when it exemplifies how Mr. Chief Minister has succeeded in keeping communal bias at bay and worked towards a holistic growth of the state’s people. It is also said that BJP treats Muslims as citizens and not just voters. Chauhan’s close aides swear by the measures he has undertaken bring Muslim population at equal footing with its Hindu counterpart. They harp on the fact that the state government’s welfare policies doled out equal benefits to the Hindu and Muslim citizens.

Organizing Muslims girls’ nikaah, sending senior citizens to Ajmer Sharif under the Teerth Darshan Yojana (CM’s Pilgrimage Programme), and distributing bonus among the farmers on per quintal of produce – the government has been doing it all. Speculations are also rife that BJP’s minority cell is planning rallies and outreach programmes to win ‘anti-congress vote’. From wearing a skull cap during Eid to allotting land for constructing an Urdu University, the chief minister has been selectively carrying on with his minority appeasement stratagem.

However, not everything the CM did was hailed as an act of wisdom. Instead of warming the cockles of the minority community, he raked up sharp criticism by giving consent on introducing lessons from the Bhagavad Gita in school curriculum, even in the madrasas. Muslims still consider themselves a victim of ‘systematic sidelining’.  Members of the community are unanimous in their sense of deprivation. Time and again, they send a chilling reminder to the chief minister that selecting electoral candidates from their community is long overdue.

For BJP, Madhya Pradesh is the third-most troubled territory after Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, when it comes to winning the confidence of Muslim voters.  If it wants to bolster the chances of winning Madhya Pradesh for the third consecutive time, it has to deliver on the promise of providing 24-hour electricity to rural areas. Instead of a straitjacketed pacification policy, the BJP government has to answer some tough questions. Mr. Digvijay Singh, who holds the reins of the Congress bastion, continues to pontificate on the poor industrial policy of the state and layered corruption in almost every department. Now that the Congress is trying to up the ante against the ruling party by making constructive claims such as agricultural loan waiver and ‘equal pay for equal work’ culture, Mr. Chauhan might have to dish out something tangible and convincing to bring minority voters on board.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of Elections.in.

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Not too much of a social person.Like to be with just a handful of people, aspire to lead a healthy and happy life with a satisfying job in hand. Hate fake people and more than that I get offended with lies.Can't butter people no matter what the reason be!!