Muslims in Gujarat are slowly shifting allegiance to a pro-Hindu party and the main reason is their concern for business, a study by a Jesuit center has revealed. “Average Gujarati Muslims are primarily concerned about their trade, business and employment, and not human rights,” says Jesuit Father Lancy Lobo, director of Centre for Culture and Development in Vadodara. The center analyzed religion and caste trends in Vadodara municipal corporation elections in October 2010. The yet-to-be-published study shows that about 25 percent of Muslims voted for candidates of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian people’s party) in all areas. The party has ruled the state for more than a decade. The Muslim drift has taken place in a state where sectarian riots in 2002 killed 1,182 people, mostly Muslims, and displaced thousands of others. In areas where Muslims accounted for 90 percent of the population, BJP polled 37 percent Muslim votes. Many BJP Hindu candidates also won from Muslim dominated electoral wards. “This is really surprising because BJP candidates earlier could not even dare to enter Muslim pockets even for political mobilization,” noted the study conducted by the Jesuit priest along with Jayesh Shah, a staff of the center. The study has quoted Muslims slum dwellers as saying that they had benefited economically under the BJP rule. They also said the earlier ruler, the Congress party had never cared for their community. Father Lobo says in Gujarat, the BJP has created an image of being development oriented with good governance. However, the study also quotes Muslims as warning the BJP that they would not vote for it again if it stops providing benefits of development to them. ID13560.1644
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