Muslims are seeking a new narrative in Gujarat beyond victimhood
Mercantile, entrepreneurial and aspirational Gujarati have created India's first perpetually red republican state where the majority sentiment is culturally conservative and economically right wing, no matter what the exact party complexion of the ruling regime.
But within this largely Hindu state with a Hindu consensus, there is a silent invisible transformation. At 9 per cent of the population, Muslims remain politically irrelevant. The BJP hasn't given a single ticket to Muslims in this election yet again.
This civic and judicial activism has not only prevented any large scale Muslim alienation from the system after the riots but also created a renewed sense of engagement. There are many young Muslim lawyers fighting riot cases, confident that the courts will be fair. The Modi government loves to pour scorn on "biased" NGOs and media for continually harping on riots, but the fact is, it is precisely because of the outreach by civil society, that to a large extent, communal tensions have been lowered.
In 2002, the riots brought a majority of 127 seats; in 2007 Modi invoked the Sohrabuddin case to consolidate his image as protector of Hindus and won 117 seats. Today he may have made references to "Miyan" Ahmed Patel to try and neutralize hard line Hindu outrage at his Sadbhavna mission or outreach to minorities and reassure his core Hindu voters.
However Juhapura also resembles a Gujarati Gaza Strip, a designated area for Muslims, a place where they can build and flourish, but not venture beyond. Modi has not visited Juhapura even once as chief minister.