PATNA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said India’s standing has grown taller among Islamic countries in the world lately due to efforts by the NDA government he heads.
“For the first time in 50 years, India was invited to a summit of Islamic countries. In these 50 years, India had governments of Congress and its allies,” he said at an NDA rally in Bihar capital Patna, referring to the plenary of the foreign ministers’ conclave of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an influential grouping of 57 Islamic countries.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended the inaugural plenary of OIC as the guest of honour. OIC, the second largest inter-governmental organisation after the United Nations, had last invited India in 1969. There had been no invitation ever since as Pakistan had prevailed upon and got the invitations withdrawn every successive year.
In his address at the massive ‘Sankalp rally’ of NDA at Patna’s historic Gandhi Maidan, Modi blamed the previous Congress-led governments for making no effort towards ensuring that India is invited to the OIC summit.
“During the Saudi Crown Prince’s recent visit to Delhi, I asked him to raise the Haj quota from India as more and more Muslims want to go for Haj. He raised it to two lakh. This happened to no other country. India’s voice was heard and respected,” said Modi.
“I also told the Saudi Crown Prince about the plight of Indian immigrants who have been put in jails there for minor offences. The same evening he offered me sweets, saying he has decided to release 850 Indians from Saudi jails. I thank him with all my heart,” added the PM.
With Muslims comprising about 17 per cent of Bihar’s population and playing a crucial role in electoral outcomes, Modi’s speech is widely seen as an effort by the BJP-led NDA to woo the state’s minority community ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
India’s largest Muslim-populated area after the Kashmir Valley and Lakshadweep happens to be Bihar’s Kishanganj district, where about 78 per cent of the population is Muslim.