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Gujarat polls: Muslims queue up for BJP tickets

AHMEDABAD: Muslims had turned up in large numbers in 2011 when then chief minister Narendra Modi tried an image makeover and launched Sadbhavna Mission to attract the minorities.
A year later, however, the “sadbhavna” failed to translate into reality with the saffron party not fielding any Muslim candidate in the 2012 Gujarat assembly elections+ . This, even after the BJP+ offered tickets to Muslims in the local body polls in 2010 and many of them emerging winners.
Five years down the line, Muslims leaders are seeking some “real sadbhavna” and hoping that BJP — that has since 1980 fielded only one candidate in assembly elections in year 1998 — to turn a new leaf politically and field minority candidates for making greater inroads into the community.
BJP Minority Morcha has demanded several seats in the upcoming elections. Mehboob Ali Chisti, BJP Minority Morcha in-charge believes that since there are around 350 Muslims who secured seats for BJP in local body polls in urban areas in 2015, Muslims could win assembly polls for BJP in certain constituencies. “During the recent Parliamentary Board meeting, many Muslim community leaders have requested for party ticket. Representations have been made for Jamalpur-Khadia, Vejalpur, Vagra, Wankaner, Bhuj and Abdasa seats,” Chishti said.

One such aspirant for Jamalpur-Khadia constituency, where Muslims constitute 61% of total voters, is Usman Ghanchi, a builder from Shah-e-Alam. Associated with BJP for past decade, Ganchi has sought aticket. His request was undersigned by five maulvis (priests) who have recommended his candidature. He feels his chances are bright. “I have been treated with great respect by BJP, and if given an opportunity I will win the seat for the party. BJP is a strong cadre-based party with equally strong leadership, and I have got public support to prove my worth,” he told TOI.

Former IPS officer A I Saiyed too is ready to contest assembly elections. “I am with BJP for nine years. If BJP offers me a ticket, I will contest polls,” he said. Saiyed contested local body elections in 2010, but was defeated from Sarkhej. Later, he was made Gujarat Wakf Board chairman.

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