Juhapura in 3D

The "toofan" last visited in 2002, but from the Muslim areas of Daryapur and the sprawling all-Muslim ghetto of Juhapura in Ahmedabad, it never fully blew away.

Take a walk down the busy lanes and bylanes here, and you might find out why, unlike at other times in the past when Gujarat was convulsed by violence between communities, memories of the communal riot in 2002 have refused to quietly recede into the euphemism commonly used for it: toofan, a storm, a force of nature that mere mortals are helpless against.

In an election marked by the never-before communication blitzkrieg, Daryapur's Muslim areas and Juhapura are witnessing only one party's campaign. The Congress comes here, if only at election time. This time, too, its candidates and workers are doing the rounds, its posters are pasted on walls and its flags flutter from wires strung between poles.

With only days to go for the final phase of polling in election 2012, in which residents of these areas will vote, however, you can spot no BJP candidate, leader, corporator or karyakarta. The lotus doesn't bloom on poster or banner, and there is no Modi in 3D, either in the Muslim areas of Daryapur, said to always vote Congress, or in large parts of Juhapura, which, before delimitation, was part of the constituency that elected BJP's Amit Shah. "He (Shah) has won the seat four times but hasn't come here even once", says Sadiq Husain, who runs an autorickshaw.

The BJP's reluctance or refusal to come and ask for votes from the Muslims kickstarts the chai-shop argument. "Some of us would certainly get influenced if the BJP or Modi came here. Right now, Muslims only get to hear the Congress", says young Nissar Ahmed, who runs a tailoring shop in Daryapur. "But why will they come, when they say openly that they don't want our votes?" Zaheeruddin, who runs a small hotel, frames the shared scepticism.

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