Key to Gujarat
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Citizennagar is hidden in a mountain of garbage at a dump yard on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. The refugees have been living amid stinking waste for the past 10 years. It falls in Danilimda constituency where the majority of population are Dalits. Both the BJP and Congress have fielded Dalits leaders, Girish Parmar and Shailesh Parmar, respectively.
Though the residents here are in no mood to 'forgive' the BJP, Muslims living in the adjacent areas are divided on the subject. "Ten years ago, the situation was worse. Our men used to get killed in clashes before 2002. But we have moved on and thanks to Modi, no such clashes have happened in all these years. Congress never gave electricity connections or even BPL cards, but Modi did," says Haneefa Sheikh, a resident of Gomtipur in Ahmedabad city, who sells waste paper for recycling in Citizennagar. She has been working here even before Citizennagar was set up.
Rizwana Sheikh, a commerce graduate who lives with her husband at Mubaraknagar, adjacent to Citizennagar, says Muslims have changed and benefited from the development under the leadership of Modi.
The residents of Citizennagar and Mubaraknagar together frame a bigger picture of Muslim voters in Gujarat, who constitute a little less than 10 per cent of the state's total voters—3.78 crore. This election, despite Modi's much-hyped fasts under 'Sadbhavna Mission' which was said to be an attempt to woo Muslims, the BJP didn't give a single ticket to Muslim candidates while there are seven contesting the election from the Congress.
"The fact that Muslims are crucial voters has been completely bypassed by the political parties. No one likes us. Congress should have given at least 17-18 seats given the number of the Muslim voters. Keshubhai Patel (Gujarat Parivartan Party) also didn't take a chance. The fact is that Gujarat has never elected a Muslim MP since 1989 after Ahmed Patel (Sonia Gandhi's political adviser)," says JS Bandukwala, a retired professor based in Vadodara.
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