In a new twist in Tripura assembly election campaign, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain, a Muslim face in the party, has said that Muslims in Tripura are patriots who did not go to Pakistan after Independence though the state shares a long border with Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan till 1971.
While addressing a public meeting in support of his party’s candidate in Muslim dominated Boxanagar constituency on Saturday, Shahnawaz Hussain said that thousands of Muslims were killed while performing ‘namaz’ at mosques in Pakistan, but not a single such incident had ever occurred in India.
While trying to re-assure Muslims about his party’s “secular” character, he said, “BJP is not a party of only Narendra Modi, but also a party of Shahnawaz Hussain. It is a party of the common people and it is a secular party, not communal party.”
आज त्रिपुरा, धनपुर के बसपुकुर में भाजपा उम्मीदवार श्री प्रीतम भौमिक जी के चुनावी अभियान में जनसभा को सम्बोधित किया। जनता ने त्रिपुरा को 25 साल के वामपंथी कुशाशन से मुक्त करना तय कर लिया है और त्रिपुरा में विकास के लिए समर्पित नीतियों वाली भाजपा की सरकार बनेगी। #TripuraWithModi pic.twitter.com/UQH8Ti4qKc— Shahnawaz Hussain (@ShahnawazBJP) February 10, 2018
Hussain, who is also party’s spokesperson, said that after the country’s partition in 1947, Muslims did not migrate to East Pakistan and chose to stay in Tripura because they are a patriotic force.
BJP’s Muslim leader’s comments during the ongoing campaign in Tripura came at a time when another BJP member of parliament (MP) Vinay Katiyar has recently said that “Muslims should not even living in this country, they should go to Pakistan of Bangladesh”.
Tripura Muslims comprise around 8% of the population in the state. Tripura has a long border with Bangladesh and many Muslims living near the border were evicted or faced various other problems due to erection of the border fencing. He alleged that Chief Minister Manik Sarkar never raised the issue with Central government.
He recalled that when he was civil aviation minister in previous NDA government he started direct Haj flights to Saudi Arabia from Guwahati. He criticised state’s ruling CPI(M) led Left Front for branding BJP as a communal party. Instead, Hussain claimed that in reality communists are communal.
He referred to what communists did to Muslims in erstwhile USSR. He said, “Before the crumbling of USSR, many provinces of the country were Muslim majority such as Kazakstan and Uzbekistan. The communist rulers there had demolished mosques,” he added.
He claimed that BJP came to power in many states with a sizable portion of Muslim population including Assam, UP and Jammu and Kashmir.
He advised Muslims in the state that “Our best friends are Hindus. We all Muslims should be proud that we were born in India. You would never find friends like Hindus and a country like India.”
However, he admitted that in a country of 125 crore there might be some stray incidents of communal violence.
Observers believe that statements like what Shahnawaz Hussian in Tripura election public rally are now rarely heard from any BJP leader. Instead, top leadership remain silent over provocative statements from party cadre and its offshoot groups.
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