A known critic of Narendra Modi, Syed Zafar Mahmood on Saturday presented a slide show, touching various aspects of problems being faced by Muslims and the 2002 riots, in front of the Gujarat Chief Minister and said he was happy that his views were taken in stride.
Mahmood made the presentation at Young Indian Leaders Conclave where Modi remained closeted for a day with 150 young participants at the event organised by Citizen of Accountable Governance. Out of the 150 participants, around 30 were from the minority community.
After the presentation, Modi told Mahmood, "it is very good you said all that and I'll consider it".
To a question whether Modi was reaching out to various sections of the society to get higher acceptance, Mahmood told PTI "yes, you are very right. I think that was the very purpose of inviting me. And, my first impulse was sorry, I would not be able to come. But then I thought a lot about it."
"...Better go and meet him. Tell him what are the perceptions of the Muslim community of India. What are the complaints of the Muslim community with BJP? Why is the Muslim community heavy-hearted with BJP and Modi?", he said.
"And I'm very happy. My presentation was taken in stride. And very, very attentively, he (Modi) and the rest of the audience looked at it, heard it. And, I'm sure it has trickled down all of them. I'm sure it will have a good effect on the conscience of the country," Mahmood said.
In his presentation, Dr Mahmood highlighted the plight of the victims displaced by the 2002 riots, who are now residing in Dhorajinagar and Citizen Nagar on the outskirts of the city.
He said 200 families, rehabilitated with the help of local Muslim philanthropists, are residing at the foothill of a one-kilometre long and fifty feet high heap of trash dumped there from all over the city.
Mahmood, who was the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) on Sachar Committee, told Modi that it would be appreciated if the latter pays a visit to Citizen Nagar and Dhorajinagar localities.
Besides raising issues like BJP's view on Sachar Committee, anti-Muslim articles on BJP's official website and creating a special cadre for Waqf board, Mahmood said the central scholarship for minorities was not implemented in Gujarat even though it was adopted by BJP governments in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
In his reply to a question on reaction of Modi, who was recently elevated as the head of BJP election campaign committee, Mahmood said "I think the reaction was better than expected".
"It is very good you said all that and I will consider it. We have come to know the points raised by you. I and my companions in the party will consider it," Mahmood quoted Modi as saying.
Asked whether this was a new beginning, he said "I'm pretty sure. Because, in my knowledge, there has never been an occasion where BJP and its stalwarts have been challenged by any representative of the Muslim community at the national level".