Reaching out to Muslims, PM Narendra Modi suddenly paused for several minutes in the middle of his speech as a muezzin called for prayers at a nearby mosque. While his spectators were taken aback and were not sure what was happening, the Prime Minister stayed silent for a full 1:30 minute and gestured his audience to remain calm as well.
Canvassing for BJP candidates at the BNR Ground in Kharagpur in West Midnapore district, he later explained that he stopped because he didn’t want to disturb anyone during their prayers.
“Excuse me, but Azaan was on and I didn’t want that because of me, there should be any problem while someone is worshiping. So I paused for a few minutes.”
According to Census 2011, 620,554 people in West Midnapore district are Muslim, that is 10.49 per cent of the population that live there.
This was not the first time that a political leader had stopped his speech during Azaan, in September 2014, Telangana CM KCR too had stopped his speech to show respect to Azaan followed by BJP president Amit Shah in November 2014, who had taken similar pause during his address in Kolkata. KCR in 2014 had explained:
“Irrespective of their religion in Deccan, anyone who knows the relevance of Azaan, will stop all activities till its completion as it hardly takes two to three minutes. It is Deccani culture and a symbol for Ganga-Jamuna tahzeeb.”