BJP clicks in Muslim zones too in the Gujarat Assembly elections, Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi looks for reasons why

The BJP performed well in most seats with a high Muslim population. Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi, cleric and former Darul-uloom Deoband vice-chancellor, who lost his job last year because of his endorsement of Narendra Modi's development plank, now says Muslims may have voted for the BJP but that was because they knew the Congress would lose rather than their belief in Modi's development agenda. The BJP, he feels, did shrewd electoral management by fielding dummy Muslim candidates in Assembly constituencies with a substantial Muslim presence, dividing the community's votes.

Surat-born Vastanvi, the first mohtamim (vice-chancellor) of the Deoband seminary from outside North India, kicked up a storm last year within days of his election to the post by claiming Modi's development agenda had benefited Muslims. After many months of uncertainty, he was axed in July 2011, despite the reported clean chit to him in the report of the a committee that looked into allegations against him.

He seems to have since undergone a change of heart and in a recent meeting in Surat described Modi as a "zalim", asking Muslims to vote for the Congress. As it turned out, the BJP did far better than expected in seats witha high Muslim poulation and increased its vote share at the expense of the Congress in some of them.

"I stick to my stand that Modi is a zalim (oppressor). I have never praised him," he said today.

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