Although the BJP has not fielded any Muslim candidate among the 76 candidates for Vadodara’s 19 wards, it has got a Muslim as one of its campaigners. Uvesh Noor Memon, the driver of a mobile LED van, feels he’s doing it all for business, keeping aside his political affiliation. “To the Muslims, the video would not make much difference,” Memon says. Across the road from where Memon has parked his van – at the busy crossroad near the Institute of Mental health in Karelibaug – is the Jivan Bharti civic school from where hundreds of children belonging to the displaced Muslim families of Kalyannagar dropped out exactly a year ago on November 18 when the VMC razed their homes.
“We all know what happened in Kalyannagar. In our community, there is no excitement about the VMC polls. We have not had a representation in the civic body for the last five years and our local corporators hardly pay heed to our grievances. Take a look at the areas where Muslims live and you can see the stark difference from the other ‘developed’ areas of the city. This election will be no different as Muslim representation in the civic body seems like a distant possibility,” says Memon, a resident of the communally-polarised Wadi area.
For Memon, the campaign is “pure business”. He says, “I am not campaigning for the BJP or any other party. I am only the service provider for a client that wants to use LED advertising.”
For Memon, taking the van – adorned with the photographs of BJP leaders – through the communally sensitive area where he lives is an awkward feeling since the BJP has ignored the areas in its election campaign. He says, “The BJP has not campaigned much in Muslim areas. In fact, even the routes I must follow for the van do not include any specific Muslim areas. Political parties only think of their own vested interests. This election is a money-spinning wheel for those in politics. So, I am only running my business honestly, regardless of who the client is.”