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BJP candidate Girish Parmar in Muslim-dominated Jamalpur: You are family, not voters

Traditionally a Congress stronghold, the BJP registered a surprise victory in Khadia-Jamalpur in the 2012 Assembly election.

Written by Tanvir Siddiqui | Ahmedabad |
November 21, 2017 3:44:14 am
Gujarat elections, Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017, Girish Parmar BJP, Congress, BJP, PAAS, Hardik Patel, Gujarat news, Vijay Rupani, Indian Express At a Sadbhavna meeting of the BJP candidate Bhushan Bhatt in the Behrampura area of Jamalpur on Sunday. (Express Photo: Javed Raja)

“Assalamu alaikum!” said BJP leader and former minister Girish Parmar, greeting a gathering of Muslims at a party event on Sunday evening at Behrampura in Khadia-Jamalpur constituency.

His greeting was instantly reciprocated by the audience at the ‘Sadbhavna meeting’.

“It was unimaginable for the BJP to even think of fielding a candidate from Khadia-Jamalpur constituency (with 61 per cent Muslim voters). But things have changed, and now I am happy to welcome new (Muslim) entrants in the BJP in this constituency,” he said.

“You have taken the right decision (of joining BJP) at the right time,” he said, likening the country to a garden where all communities live in harmony like a variety of flowers. “This is the time to place the tribute of lotus on the feet of the BJP,” he added.

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The crowd had a sizeable number of Muslim women from the neighbourhood.

Having thus set the tone, BJP MLA Bhushan Bhatt, who has been renominated by the party, stood up to speak, but on hearing the sound of azaan from a nearby mosque he stood still. After it ended, Bhatt began his speech by saying that the sound of azaan was a sign of a blessing for him.

“Jamalpur is a matter of prestige for the Congress, which cannot afford to lose even in exchange for the remaining 181 seats, but tomorrow the Congress will swarm to Jamalpur to save it. I am not going to ask you to vote for me, but compare the divide-and-rule regime of the Congress with the BJP’s inclusive development regime and then decide for yourself,” he said. “In the past 60 years, the Congress gave you only hunger, fear and unemployment, while the BJP, since coming to power, gave you safety and work.”

Traditionally a Congress stronghold, the BJP registered a surprise victory in Khadia-Jamalpur in the 2012 Assembly election.

Referring to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s visits to temples in Gujarat, Bhatt said, “My younger brother Rahul has started visiting temples. Let him, he will also come to Jagannath mandir, which he thinks will fetch him votes. He eats bhajiya too, but he eats one bhajiya and releases 500 photographs. Our (party) president Amit Shah comes to Manek Chowk for bhajiyas several times.”

“You are my family, not my voters,” he said, claiming that he has a database of 48,000 voters with whom he has been in contact for the last five years. “If I have hurt you in the last five years, vent your anger against me but not against the BJP when you cast your vote,” he concluded.

M K Chishti, convener of the state BJP minority morcha, listed the contribution of Muslims to the country since 1857. “Now some people object to chanting Bharat Mata ki Jai. Muslims voted for the Congress, which ruled for 55 years. But what have they got in return after making all the sacrifices?” he asked.

“I have done most of the good work for Muslims than anyone else in the past 10 years… It is my open challenge; if anyone can prove me wrong, I will quit politics forever,” he said amid applause.

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