The BJP, which has not been fielding Muslim candidates in last few elections, will, however, deploy members of the community in Gujarat for campaigning in constituencies with sizeable Muslim presence. Around 100 members of BJP’s minority morcha unit from Mumbai left for Surat on Sunday under the leadership of its national vice-president Irfan Ahmed for campaigning.
“Our concentration will be on Surat and surrounding districts in this campaign, though other areas will also be covered,” Ahmed said, adding that more members of the BJP wing will arrive in Gujarat ahead of the polls.
M K Chishti, the convener of Gujarat Minority Morcha, was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, BJP Minority Morcha national president Abdul Rasheed Ansari said that the central leadership of the party decides on who to send for campaigning. “It is not in my hands but it is for the party’s central leadership to decide on whom to send for campaigning. I, for myself, can say that if asked, I will go to Gujarat for campaigning,” he said.
Sakhi Bava, a religious leader in Kheda district, who had joined the BJP sometime ago with reportedly 3,000 of his followers, said that if told, Muslims would go to villages for BJP campaigning. “But things will depend on who the party will give mandate. Once the face of election in our constituencies will be clear, we will see whether we will campaign for him or not,” he said.
When asked if it would be possible for Muslim clerics and other prominent Muslims from outside Gujarat to campaign in the state, he expressed his reservation. “I don’t think the idea of bringing maulvis and others from outside will work. First of all, there will be opposition from within the party itself that the BJP is now resorting to Muslim clerics for election work,” Bava said.
BJP spokesman I K Jadeja, however, said that he was not aware of any move to rope in Muslim clerics from outside for campaign work in Gujarat.