“Modi Will Become The Prime Minister In 2014”
The Times of India calls him a ‘’rare breed”—a Muslim supporting BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. He is Zafar Sareshwala. Being branded as an opportunist and back-stabber by the Muslims for supporting Modi does not deter this 50-year-old bearded businessman from being one of the trusted confidants of Narendra Modi. In an exclusive interview to Indira Satyanarayan, Zafar Sareshwala busts the myth that Modi is anti-Muslim. Excerpts:
Your are a member of the Tablighi Jamaat, considered to be puritanical in Islamic ideology, yet you chose to support Narendra Modi, who is perceived to be an Hindutavadi. Why?
■ The Tablighi Jamaat is a self-improvement, revival movement among the Muslims. The basics of Islam is moderation. Islam believes in peace and co-existence.
You are considered to be a back-stabber by your community for supporting Modi.
■ The so-called politically-oriented people call me that. I opened a dialogue with Modi. Tomorrow I may even talk to the RSS. I met Modi when nobody wanted to meet him. I asked Modi, how will investors invest in Gujarat if there is no peace? And I also asked him, can we have peace without justice? I raised a lot of issues pertaining to Muslims. Modi was very forthcoming. What was the need for Modi to talk to me? That shows his humility. His conduct is exemplary.
Do you think Muslims will accept Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate?
■ You see the results of Assembly elections. Muslims have voted with an overwhelming majority for Modi that is why the BJP has won in all four states. In the Bharatpur District in Rajasthan, where 70 per cent are Muslims, BJP candidate Jagat Singh defeated the Muslim candidate, fielded by the Congress. Muslims have voted for Modi because they trust him.
What is your reaction to Narendra Modi’s analogy of the puppy coming under the car?
■ That comment was quoted out of context. Modi’s office issued a clarification but Reuters did not publish it. What Narendra Modi meant was that even if a puppy comes under the wheels of my car, it is so painful; how much more saddened I would be if it were human beings. I am from the Sunni Bohra community, a huge Majority in Gujarat. We do not see Modi as the villain, as he is made out to be.
Has Modi’s reach-out to Muslims succeeded?
■ Modi’s reach-out is different. He has not founded a single scheme in which Muslims or Hindus are discriminated. His approach is holistic. There has been no curfew in Gujarat in the last decade. There is 24/7 power in Gujarat even in the remotest village. Modi has removed the lumpen elements from among the Hindus. I challenge Pravin Togadia to come and give a hate speech against the Muslims in Gujarat. There is no communal tension in Gujarat now.
What has Modi done specifically for the Muslims in Gujarat?
■ For Muslims’ welfare, Modi has worked out on three major points: The Haj Committee, the Wakf Board and the Minority Finance Board. Modi revamped the Minority Finance Board, which was defunct before and converted it into a corporation.
What part will you be playing in the 2014 general elections?
■ I will convince the Muslim community to look at Modi with a different perspective. I will tell the Muslims not to be fooled by Union Minister Salman Khurshid’s statement that he would get 9 per cent reservations for Muslims because it is not possible, the Supreme Court would strike it down. Muslims are disillusioned with the Congress.
Do you think that Modi will become Prime Minister?
■ Yes, he has worked hard. His performance is very good. He will become the Prime Minister in 2014.