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Muslims groups extend support to Devendra Fadnavis

In a major development, prominent Muslim groups of Maharashtra have extended their “wholehearted” support to the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government which is set to take charge of the state from Friday.

Muslims groups extend support to Devendra Fadnavis

The decision to support the saffron party came soon after their meeting with Fadnavis late on Wednesday night at Trident hotel, Mumbai. The two sides briefly discussed the broader discourse of the BJP’s development model and their major poll-plank “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”. Attended by over half a dozen Muslim leaders who represent prominent organisations like All India Milli Association, All India Muslim OBC organization, Khula Manch, Hindu-Muslim Ekta manch, Movement for Human Welfare, the first ever meeting between the RSS-rooted chief minister and Muslim leaders can potentially kick-start a new chapter in the state politics.

These groups wield considerable influence in the community especially among the liberal Muslims and had been supporting the Congress since decades. Days before the assembly polls, they expressed their desire to support the Shiv Sena or BJP whichever came to power. dna was the first to report about this.

Explaining the need for the saffron switch, MA Khalid, general secretary of All India Milli Association who attended the meet, told dna, “We have realised that Congress deliberately kept the Muslim community away from the BJP by dubbing it “communal” all these years especially since the Babri-masjid demolition. This helped the Congress to remain in power but the community remained in extreme poverty struggling on socio-economic parameters. The community is crying for good education, health facility and jobs and we hope that the BJP government can do it.”

Khalid says religious identity and prayer are personal issues which shouldn’t be mixed with social issues. “What the community needs today is development. BJP must also get a chance to prove itself and do better for the community.”

The leaders told Fadavis to work for the upliftment of all backward communities, including Muslims. They have also readied a seven-point agenda which would be submitted to the CM next week. This includes mandatory construction of schools by builders for all SRA buildings having more than 500 flats, recognition of 222 schools pending since long, establishing a branch of Aligarh Muslim University in Aurangabad promised by previous government long back, establishment of waqf corporation, improving on drinking water facilities and fast track courts for Muslims lodged in the jails for suspected terror links.

Hardliner MIM’s entry into the state politics which has led insecurity among liberal Muslims, could be another reason for this shift, say observers.

BJP already claims to have won a significant chunk of Muslim votes in this election, though none among the 122 party MLAs is a Muslim. To woo the community further, the party has extended invites for the swearing-in ceremony of Fadnavis to a large number of Muslim intellectuals, religious and community leaders.

Salim Alware, president of Khula Manch, a conglomeration of a dozen Muslim NGOS who was also among those who met Fadnavis said, “BJP must also share power with the Muslims rather than treating them as showpieces.”

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