For the first time,the BJP is said to be considering fielding Muslim candidates in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat. Former DGP Shabbir S Khandwawala and former additional DGP Abullah Ibrahim Saiyed are among the prospective candidates.
The ruling party did not field a single Muslim in the 2002 and 2007 polls.
While BJP leaders were tightlipped,Saiyed said he was ready to shoulder whatever responsibility the party would give him. Saiyed lost the 2009 Ahmedabad Municipal corporation elections from Muslim-dominated Sarkhej ward to the Congress. The party had projected him as a mayoral candidate.
Khandwawala could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
The BJP had fielded about 200 candidates in panchayat and local bodies elections and 160 of them won.
Modi is seen to be keen on mending his anti-Muslim image as he seeks a bigger role on the national stage.
Meanwhile,other major political parties have begun identifying the seats with 15 to 30 per cent Muslim population to field Muslim candidates.
The Congress,which has been a beneficiary of the Muslim votes,is under pressure to field more Muslim candidates this time. Though state Congress leaders say winnability would be the only criterion for allotting tickets,the partys minority cell in the state is reported to have submitted a list of 14 Muslim candidates. In 2007,Congress fielded five Muslims and all of them won.