Contrary to the hype created by the BJP about Muslims “looking towards” Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the community stayed away from the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate’s public meeting here on Saturday. The party had claimed that about 5,000 Muslims would be present in the rally, but even those numbers did not turn up.
A senior police officer confirmed that the presence of Muslims in the rally was negligible. The BJP had said that skull caps and “burqas” were distributed to 5,000 men and women for the rally. The police officer said BJP cadres were instructed to procure used skull caps so as to give the impression that Muslims were not “hired” for the public meeting, or new recruits to the saffron party.
Kanpur has about 8 lakh Muslim voters, the single largest concentration of voters of the minority community in an urban area of Uttar Pradesh. They are known to have supported the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections. Mohammad Saleem of the Muslim-dominated Bakenganj locality here said leaders like L.K. Advani and even Sushma Swaraj would have been acceptable. “But such is not the case with Mr. Modi.”