Modi’s new avatar: Vision document for Muslims

August 14 2013

In a move which can clearly be seen as part of image makeover exercise for BJP Campaign Committee chief Narendra Modi, the saffron party’s prime ministerial aspirant has embarked upon the process of preparing a comprehensive package for the country’s Muslims.

Called the “Vision Document for Empowerment of Minorities” Modi’s exercise is clearly an attempt to cleanse his image among the Muslims, blotted by the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. Curiously, it runs contrary to the aggressive Hindu agenda that Modi seems to be pursuing. Modi had recently said that he was a proud to be a Hindu nationalist.

Modi has constituted a team headed by BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi for the vision document. Naqvi told ENI that the document aimed at empowerment, and not “appeasement” of Muslims. “Our particular focus is on the political empowerment of Muslims. If we come to power, we will bring out an Action Taken Report detailing the promises made to the Muslims and whether they are fulfilled,” said Naqvi. Modi’s team is also preparing a chargesheet accusing Congress of “exploiting Muslims for its political gains”.

Apart from Naqvi, BJP leaders Gopinath Munde, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Nirmala Sitaraman are part of this team. However, Modi’s team realises somewhere that bringing about such a document could be perceived as a cosmetic change that the BJP is attempting. “It’s not that one vision document will change the outlook of the country’s Muslims towards the BJP. But we are making an honest effort from our side,” Naqvi said.

In the past, Modi’s efforts to woo the minorities community who feel aggrieved and targeted after the 2002 riots have only backfired. In 2011, Modi had refused to wear a cap offered by a Muslim cleric at the end of his Sadbhavna fast, leading his critics to attack him saying that Modi’s “sadbhavna (all faiths) mission” was just a charade. The shadow of 2002 riots hangs on Modi and it is to be seen whether the country’s Muslims will delink riots with Team Modi’s latest exercise.

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