Before Modi lands, landed Guj Muslims shining ad in Patna dailies

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi,,

Patna: About 24 hours before Narendra Modi lands in Patna to attend the BJP National Executive meet, the Gujarat Government today published one-page ad in Patna newspapers, claiming Muslims in the land of Modi are prosperous and enjoying better life. The ad seems to be a face saving exercise for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who is being criticized for getting closer to Gujarat CM Modi.

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Modi along with other BJP leaders including L K Advani and BJP president Nitin Gadkari is attending the two-day BJP meet beginning here from June 11. While publicly Nitish and his ruling party JDU have said the BJP meet is the party’s internal affair, the Bihar CM has accorded state guest status to Modi and Advani. Besides, JDU is hosting a dinner party for Modi, Advani and all 250-odd BJP National Executive members at the CM’s official residence. The move has earned Nitish lot of criticism.

Gujarat govt. ad published in Patna dailies on 10 June 2010

The advertisement amid criticism is an effort to mollify the critics of Nitish getting closer to Modi who is an accused in the Gujarat 2002 riots. The inherent meaning of the ad, published in Urdu, Hindi and English dailies a day before the BJP meet, is this: If Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, is coming closer to his Gujarat counterpart, the Muslims in Bihar should not worry – because Modi is a good person and doing a lot of welfare work for the Muslim community in his state.

The title of the ad is: Muslims in Gujarat enjoy better education, employment opportunities, financial stability, health facilities, infrastructure. It gives, under the heading of Indisputable facts about Muslims in Gujarat, some facts and figures about Muslims’ literacy, education, employment, health and economy.

Gujarat govt. ad published in Patna dailies on 10 June 2010

The ad says 73.5% of Muslims in Gujarat are literate, much higher than the national average (59.1%)and higher than the overall average in Gujarat (69.1%). The Gujarat government further claims that Muslims’ employment in government sector is higher than many states. In Gujarat it is 5.4% but in West Bengal it is just 2.1% and in Delhi 3.2%. The ad did not give data about Bihar. Moreover, Muslims in Gujarat, the ad says, are far ahead of the community members in other states when it comes to bank deposits, access to education and medical facilities and infant mortality rate.

However, the full one-page ad has a picture that can belie the claims. As evidence of Muslims’ progress in Gujarat, the ad carries two pictures wherein Muslim girls and children are shown learning. In one picture small boys and girls are reading a religious book in a madrasa. In another some Muslim girls are learning computer. As the ad is about Muslims’ progress in Gujarat one can expect the pictures are also from the state. But here is the big lie. The picture of young Muslim girls learning computer is not from Gujarat. Neither the girls are Gujarati, nor was the picture shot in Gujarat. In fact, it is a picture of Azamgarh Shibli College girls attending a computer class in the college campus. The picture was shot by this reporter for during his visit to Azamgarh in November 2008.

This TCN photo was published in our story on 24 Nov. 2008

The ad has published in various dailies including Roznama Rashtriya Sahara and Pindar (Urdu), Hindustan (Hindi), Times of India and Hindustan Times (English).