In his bid to wean away Muslim voters from Congress' fold in election year, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is making efforts that include experimenting social engineering and even shedding his saffron persona to woo the community towards BJP.
In what appears to be a well thought-out strategy, a meeting of the state BJP Minority Cell at Staff Training College in Gandhinagar is being held today to "ponder" over the ways to bring Muslims to BJP, a party functionary said.
"We will try to bring the minority community towards BJP's call of nationalism and inform them of Congress' divide and rule policy," BJP spokesperson Jagdish Bhavsar said.
With poll calculations weighing heavily on its mind, the saffron party seems determined to dent what is considered as the traditional vote bank of the Congress.
"Programmes would be devised by the party in this meeting to counter Congress's vote bank politics. Programmes will be devised in such a way that BJP party workers and especially minority community workers will donate maximum time, engage them and establish contact with Muslims population of the state," Mr Bhavsar said.
This is for the first time that Gujarat BJP will chalk out an all-out plan to woo Muslims under Mr Modi, who is accused of complacency in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
However, in a well-cultivated effort to build bridges with the community, Mr Modi launched his much-touted 'Sadbhavna Mission' and undertook fasts at all the district capitals in the state.
In today's meeting, more than 400 members of minority cell will remain present, including 150 Muslim leaders who have been elected to various municipalities on BJP ticket in the state.
According to sources, besides BJP leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, national vice-president Purshottam Rupala and state unit president R C Faldu, chairman of the state Haj Committee Sufi Saiyad Mahebub Ali, retired IAS officer and chairman of state Waqf board Ali Saiyed will also attend the meet.
The assembly elections in the state are scheduled in December.