Gujarat : Gujarat in an election mood for 2017 assembly elections, there is huge scope for communal polarisation. Yes there are attempts to polarise votes on grounds of religion, but unlike in the past, today BJP and Congress do not mention the memories of Gujarat riots of 2002.
In the previous elections, Congress use to raise the 2002 riots issue, but it had helped only BJP to consolidate its vote base. Now, the Congress gearing up for elections under the leadership of Young and dynamic Rahul Gandhi is avoiding issues which ultimately tend to help BJP and one among those issues is 2002 Gujarat riots. The Congress is now promoting Soft Hindutva approach which is reflected in frequent visits to temples in Gujarat and appealing to hindu voters.
Zuber Gopalani, who runs schools in Ahmedabad and Vadodara and also an active supporter of the Congress says that “We have not forgotten it, but today’s voters aged 18 to 20 are too young to remember the 2002 riots.”
Muslims are over 9% of the Population in Gujarat which has the population of 6.5 Crore. They make up over 30% of the population in eight assembly seats.
Vinay Brambhat, a Vadodara-based businessmen and staunch BJP supporter says that “In our younger days, we had seen how there would be frequent riots and curfews in places such as Ahmedabad at the slightest provocation.”
BJP planks on ending Curfew culture but Mr. Gopalani says that “Those who were responsible for imposing curfew are now part of the ruling structure. But Muslims have now realised how to fight on paper. Earlier, on any issue like a morphed picture of the Prophet or the viral Azaan video [a video showing a Hindu girl frightened at a Muezzin’s call], mobs would resort to violence. Now they go to the police station demanding action against the mischief-makers.”
The youth are more inclined towards the core issues of development. “I would like our leaders to talk about education, health and employment,” says Nasser Memon, a B.Com Student.