The Muslim group is confident that the majority in the country is secular

Amid high-pitched demands by some Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to declare Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections, a prominent Muslim group Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind (JUH), in a first-of-its-kind development, has asked the main Opposition party to do so. Arguing that the majority of India was “essentially secular,” the JUH expressed confidence that the country would “reject” Mr. Modi.

Talking to The Hindu, JUH leader Maulana Arshad Madani said: “Let the BJP declare Modi its prime ministerial candidate. We are quite confident that the majority of Indian people are secular and, come what may, a person like Mr. Modi — who was complicit in the post-Godhra pogrom of 2002 — would never be accepted.”

“We are fed up with, what appears to be, everyday threat by a section of the political leaders and the media over the issue. We are not scared of Mr. Modi, so let this issue be settled once and for all,” he added.

He asked Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to “genuinely” investigate the Hindutva terror-network” and not just “make comments aimed at elections.”

“Before any politician, the investigating agencies talked about the involvement of Hindutva activists [in the] Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Dargah Sharif blasts. It is ironical that those who were killed and those who were arrested for these blasts were Muslims,” said Mr. Madani, who heads the cleric group, which has its support-base mainly in Western Uttar Pradesh.

“The government is yet to seriously peruse the Hindutva terror network. If at all the Home Minister and the Home Secretary are serious about the issue, they should put these terror cases on fast track because the minority community is under the impression that it is being unfairly witch-hunted,” he added.

In an oblique reference to Pakistan, he said no other place in the “neighbourhood” was as secular as India. “Muslims in this country are progressing and living with dignity,” he said.