Months ahead of the Delhi elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been out of power for the last 15 years now, has gone all out to woo Muslims who constitute a good 12 per cent of the electorate and are crucial to determining the outcome of the upcoming Assembly elections.
At a “Convention for Muslims” at Talkatora Stadium here on Sunday, Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel highlighted the “failure” of the Congress Government on socio-economic development of Muslims.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was conspicuously absent from the posters, pamphlets and bill boards at the venue.
Mr. Goel’s desire to create an impression before the crowd was apparent when he started his speech with “ Assalamoalaikum ”, which got a welcoming response of “ Walaikumassalam ” from the crowd.
While promising a slew of measures for improvement in their standard of living, Mr. Goel talked about establishment of schools and ITIs in Muslim populated areas, making Urdu optional in Delhi Government-run schools and development of madrasas.
“The BJP will ensure introduction of Urdu as an optional subject in schools run by the Delhi Government and make sure that madrasas and Wakf Board are run by non-political entities, which the present government has ignored,” he said while talking about the G anga-Jamuni tehzeeb of Delhi.
He used the Sachar Committee data about the socio-economic deprivation of the minority community to discredit the development record of the Congress Government in Delhi. “The overall standard of living of the minority community has not improved during all these years the Sheila Dikshit Government has been in power. The literacy rate among the Muslims is much below the average literacy rate of the city. The employment opportunities are also few and far between for them as the education they are getting is not linked with skill development. We want to ensure that the Muslim brothers and sisters too get equal opportunity as any body else,” added Mr. Goel, a three-time Member of Parliament from Chandni Chowk and Delhi Sadar constituency.
While rejecting the politics of fear “practised” by the Congress, he said, “Is our ideology so scary that you fear us? People who say we are communal should see their own records first.”
Importantly, Mr. Goel also sought to allay fears in case Mr. Modi becomes the Prime Ministerial candidate. “We want development for all. Be it Modi, Advani or Rajnath, every body will talk about development for every body.”
Mr. Goel’s slogan of change was echoed by many Muslims who had come from different parts of the Capital to attend the convention.
“ Ab woh purani baat to rahi nahin. Aaj logon ko development chahiye, party chahe koi bhi ho. Pichhle 15 salon me hamari taraqqi ke liye government ne kucch nahi kiya hai. Is baar change hona chahiye” ( It is no longer the same as before. Today people need development, no matter which party is there. In the last 15 years, this government did nothing for our betterment. There should be a change this time), said Lateef Ahmad, a resident of Seelampur.