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26 May, 2019 08:58

Sign of unity or ‘BJP propaganda’? Indian Muslim woman names child after PM Modi

Sign of unity or ‘BJP propaganda’? Indian Muslim woman names child after PM Modi

Impressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s triumph in the recent parliamentary election, a Muslim woman named her newborn son after him, sparking a variety of reactions among political groups and people online.

A woman from Uttar Pradesh, a northern Indian state with a large Muslim population, filed papers to have her newborn son registered as Narendra Damodardas Modi on Friday, local media reported. The child was born on May 23, the same day the final votes were counted and the mother, Mainaz Begum, heard the news of Modi’s crushing victory over the opposition.

“I want my son to do good work like Modi and become as successful as him,” the woman told ANI. Among the things she credited Modi for were his efforts to end the Muslim custom of ‘triple talaq’, an instant divorce a man can obtain if he states the word ‘talaq’ (‘divorce’ in Arabic) three times.

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According to reports, the woman’s relatives, including her husband, tried to talk her into choosing a different name for the child, but she was persistent and eventually managed to persuade them.

The story immediately caught the attention of the Indian media due to the controversial image Narendra Modi has among some Muslims. His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is accused by some of spreading Hindu nationalism and bolstering vigilante mobs that harass and attack Muslims for things like killing cows, sacred animals in Hinduism.

The BJP saw the baby’s name as an opportunity to present Modi as a unifying leader. “Muslims are beginning to realize that the Modi government means well for them too. This family has proved it,” the party’s spokesperson said.

However, activist group Kashmir Political Workforce labeled the story as the “start of BJP’s propaganda.”

Meanwhile, people on social media appeared split on the issue as well. Some saw the woman’s choice as a good sign of India becoming more inclusive and tolerant. “This is true unity. No caste, no religion differences,” one person wrote. Another commenter said the story is a “big slap for those who think Muslims hate Modi or are in danger under Modi government."

Others dismissed the news as “cheap publicity” and said that there is “nothing” to be proud of in naming a child after the prime minister. “Isn’t it the heights of stupidity,” one person scoffed.

Some also expressed fear for the safety of the woman and the child, worrying that she may suffer repercussions in her own community.

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