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The Muslim community of India’s Gujarat state appears to be joining the ruling BJP in droves for the upcoming state elections. The joining of the beleaguered minority into the Hindutva party points to adverse conditions the community still faces.

The first major indicators came when the Muslim members of the Congress’ minority cell joined the BJP’s Gujarat unit in May. BJP sources claimed that about 2,000 Muslim members of the Congress Minority Cell deserted it to join the ruling party. But Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) spokesman Manish Doshi denied the development, asserting that this was only a tactic of the BJP’s to demoralize his party’s workers.

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The party’s joining stems from a series of meetings held by a series of conventions aimed at trying to convince Muslims to vote for it. The BJP which has been viewed as a force that is unsympathetic at best to Muslims is currently engaged in a coordinated campaign to woo the minority. This move has been reciprocated by some groups within the community which has been suspicious of the ring wing Hindutva fundamentalist group.

The Indian National Congress has been a disappointment for the Gujarat Muslims due to its soft Hindutva approach as well as a largely defensive attitude in Gujarat.

Meanwhile, some signs have arisen that speak of change. For the first time, a large number of contestants have entered for the BJP Muslim seats primarily from the Muslim areas of Gujarat. This trend has been bolstered by a number of high profile defections. One was Asifa Khan, an Indian National Congress heavyweight who had been raised by Congress leader Ahmed Patel. She joined the BJP in 2012 and has been considered the Muslim face of the BJP.

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Several factors can be asserted to be the cause behind this latest fixation between the BJP and the Gujarat Muslims. Some point out to the fact that the Muslim community has long been marginalized and discriminated against. The bleak situation has caused it to finally seek out a suitable and effective patron. The Indian National Congress has been a disappointment for the Gujarat Muslims due to its soft Hindutva approach as well as a largely defensive attitude in Gujarat. Also, the Congress is more fixated on wooing the former BJP allies in the Patel and Dalit communities.

The Muslim community of India’s Gujarat state appears to be joining the ruling BJP in droves for the upcoming state elections.

However, there are some who assert that the current phenomenon of some Muslims joining is merely the eyewash. They contend that the Muslims are largely political in nature and do not take part in elections. The select few who are seen in the political arenas are exceptions to the rule often harboring their own designs. These political leaders do not have the ability to induce the Muslims to come out and vote.

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In the end, it can be contended that as the Gujarat elections become nearer lots of shifts and changes are happening. In the subcontinent, it is traditional for large-scale “horse trading” to occur before elections as people with agendas seek out suitable platforms to serve their own interests. The case of the Gujarat Muslims appears no different.

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