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UP polls 2017: In Modi’s constituency, Muslim weavers hope for progress

LiveMint logoLiveMint 05-03-2017 Kumar Rakesh

Varanasi: “If Varanasi progresses so will we,” feels a large chunk of Muslim weavers in this world-famous weaving centre as most of them steer clear of openly criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Their Banarasi sarees having lost sheen post note ban, many of the Muslim weavers are not very happy with the BJP’s policies. Besides there are old fault lines that deeply divide the community and the saffron party.

Abdul Rauf, a noted handloom dealer, is disappointed over the Prime Minister’s handling of weavers’ concerns but says he continues to have hope in him. Rauf speaks for the city’s famous silk weavers belonging to the minority community, many of whom refrain from criticising Modi in a manner one finds in other places. “Hamare prime minister hain. Banaras taraqqi karega to hum bhi karengein. But BJP wale hume pasand nahi karte. (He is our prime minister.If Vanarasi progresses, then so will we. But BJP does not like us), says Rafiq Ahmed, a septuagenarian trader in Madanpura.

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Muslims, who comprise 20% of the population in Modi’s constituency, appear to be solidly behind the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in Varanasi, virtually ruling out any serious split in their ranks on 8 March, when the city goes to the polls. A split in their ranks in 2012 was the major reason behind the BJP’s win in all three assembly seats falling in the city.

Asked if they would vote for Modi, whose road show on Saturday passed through some Muslim localities and drew good response, some youths shot back, “How many Muslims have been fielded by the BJP in UP? Zero. We are 20% in the state but not seen good enough even for one of the 403 seats. Why should we vote for him?” PTI

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