CAIRO – A visit by Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to Chandigarh city in Northern India states of Punjab and Haryana has divided the city Muslim leaders, with some supporting him and others holding him responsible for Gujarat 2002 massacre.
“Riots or killings can't be justified, but no one person can be blamed alone for this,” BJP's minority cell chief Hazi Mohammand Khurshid said in an emotional appeal to the Muslim community in India to endorse Gujarat CM Narendra Modi's PM candidature, times of India reported on Sunday, March 30.
“Most Muslims have now taken a considered decision to vote for Modi,” Khurshid said.
Khurshid emotional speech came as Modi visited Chandigarh city to address a rally on Saturday, March 29.
Twelve years on Gujarat massacre, in which more than 2,000 Muslims were hacked and burnt to death by Hindu mobs, the rift was still wide between Modi and India Muslims who blamed his and his aides of fanning one of the worst instances of sectarian violence in India.
Defending Modi, he assured that one person can’t be singularly held responsible for the 2002 riots.
Khurshid has also attacked ruling Congress for failing to submit his many promises over the past years.
“In the 50 years of rule by the Congress, over 5,000 riots have taken place. But they have done little to bring benefits to the minority,” the Muslim leader said.
“Just five months before 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Bansal facilitated distribution of bank loans for students in Chandigarh. However, these students never got jobs and instead became bank defaulters,” he said.
Responding to Khurshid's remarks, a leading Muslim politician from the ruling Congress asserted that Congress-led UPA had taken many initiatives to provide the minorities with better education and upliftment.
“The party has also implemented the Sachar Committee recommendations to raise the social economic and educational status of Muslims in India, which would help over one crore Muslim students in getting better education and also job opportunities,” All India Congress minority cell chief Imran Kidwai, who was on a visit to Chandigarh, said.
Setting election from April 7 to May 12, India is preparing for an energetic election campaign.
The number of voters has gone dramatically by almost a hundred million since 2009 as 815 million voters are eligible to vote to elect 543 lawmakers.
There are some 140 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India and they have long complained of being discriminated against in all walks of life.
Over the past decades, respective governments, whether it is National Conference, Congress or Peoples Democratic Party, have failed to address the demands of the Muslim community.
Official figures reveal Muslims log lower educational levels and higher unemployment rates than the Hindu majority and other minorities like Christians and Sikhs.
They account for less than seven percent of public service employees, only five percent of railways workers, around four percent of banking employees and there are only 29,000 Muslims in India's 1.3 million-strong military.
The Sachar committee has released a number of recommendations to improve the conditions of Muslims, including setting up educational facilities, modernization of madrasahs, creation of job opportunities and steps to increase the community's representation in public services.
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