Politics of religion: Will Modi win the Hindi heartland?

With the Rahul vs Modi debate heating up as the 2014 Lok Sabha elections get ever closer, the question raised on a debate on CNN-IBN was whether India's Hindi heartland will move away from the politics of religion this time around.

While Aamir Raza Hussain, theatre actor and former member of the BJP, said that Muslims are scared because they won't find a place in Modi's development plans, Randeep Singh Surjewala of Congress said that people want to move away from Modi's brand of politics.

 Politics of religion: Will Modi win the Hindi heartland?

Narendra Modi. AFP

"Modi is not just a figure of fear, it is also a fact that Modi does not involve minorities in government. The Modi government does not have a single Muslim minister despite a sizeable muslim population in Gujarat," claimed Hussain.

He added that, "There is a need for all communities to be involved in growth. Muslims don't get that in Gujarat in terms of jobs or government contracts."

Surjewala added to this argument. "Secularism and development have to go hand in hand. Modi is not just devisive, minorities believe that with Modi can neither give them respect nor security, nor the basic minimum human rights. The very idea of India as a co-habitative country would go away with Modi's brand of politics and the electorate will defeat him," he told CNN-IBN.

Pawan Verma, adviser to Nitish Kumar, too added to the chorus against Modi saying, "Modi's vision is nothing but muscular exclusivity of religious polarity. The Hindi heartland, in fact, all of India wants to move away from it."

However, journalist Sharad Pradhan said Modi might have an edge. "He definitely has an edge because of the element of development. There is every reason for people to believe in his ideas. Youth in UP are actually ready to believe Modi, since he is already trying to cast himself in a new mould. If he wants to be PM, he won't be the Modi of 2002," Pradhan said.

Columnist Aakar Patel agreed and said, "He is seen as the man who can get things done and that has mass appeal. In UP, BJP stands a good chance, while in Bihar they will fare poorly."

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Updated Date: Oct 25, 2013 22:40:33 IST