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Gujarat BJP's prominent Muslim face is 38-year-old Sufi Sant Mahebubali Baba Saheb or Mahebubali Chishty from the Atodara Dargah Sharif in Surat. President of state BJP's minority morcha since 2010, he is the only Muslim name in the party's list of star campaigners for Assembly polls. He spoke to Leena Misra and Tanvir Siddiqui days before the BJP came out with its first list on Thursday.
When did you join the BJP?
I joined the BJP in 1997-98 but I wasn't active at that time because I had spiritual liabilities to fulfil along with tours to London, Africa, America and so on. Plus, going by the trend in the BJP at that time, Muslims and the BJP looked odd together and it was a little difficult convincing my followers (about the party). But slowly I saw that the BJP is basically a nationalist party. Our prophet has said that you should be loyal to your nation.
What do you think about the Congress?
Right from independence, Muslims had been very loyal to the Congress and sacrificed a lot for the party. But the Congress did nothing for Muslims in return, neither for their education, economic reforms, development or security.
In the Congress reign, there were 11,000 riots since independence, going by government records.
In 2006, the Justice Sachar committee report clearly said that after independence, Muslim's economic condition had worsened. Only 2 per cent were in government jobs and 45 per cent lived in slums. Muslims' position in society was worse than scheduled castes.
Justice Sachar also showed that 40 per cent of prisoners in Indian jails were Muslims; this was shocking.
It also said that Muslims were among majority prisoners even in the Congress ruled states. It was most shocking that they raised the criminal numbers among us. Had they worked for our reforms or education then so many of us would not have been in jails.