Asaduddin Owaisi, the AIMIM president, kicked off his party’s campaign from Ayodhya’s Rudauli town on Tuesday (September 8) for the upcoming 2022 UP Assembly elections, slamming secular parties and advocating for establishing a political leadership that will represent the interests of the Muslim community in the state.
The AIMM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) will contest for 100 seats out of the total 403 Assembly seats, in the politically crucial Hindi heartland state, under the banner of Bhagidari Sankalp Morcha, a coalition of small parties fronted by Om Prakash Rajbhar, chief of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP).
Owaisi, who is on a three-day visit to the state, lashed out at the secular parties at a rally for not giving the Muslims of UP their ‘share of power’. The Muslims had voted for parties like Congress, Samajwadi Party and BSP based on their false promise of secularism. But if Indian democracy has to become strong all the communities must then have a share in it, he reiterated.
“The Muslims of UP never got their share of power because on the false promise of secularism you voted for parties like Congress, Samajwadi Party and BSP. You should ask yourself who is your leader?” asked Owaisi, reported The Indian Express.
The AIMM is not the organisation it was in 2017, it had become stronger and their message had reached almost every household, he said. Owaisi went on to add, “I have only one message for you… Uttar Pradesh is the biggest state in India. Every community here has a political leadership and identity. If there is a community without a political leadership and voice, then that is the Muslim community… If there is one community which is helpless, then it is the Muslims of UP.”
Referring to the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya in 1992, Owaisi said that the secular parties were scared of talking about it and were benefitting from it. However, the community will not be scared since Muslims were taught to fear only God.
“I have come here to defeat the BJP and ensure they don’t form the government here,” stressed Owaisi, who will visit Sultanpur on Wednesday and Barabanki on Thursday.
Owaisi also targetted the Samajwadi Party, which he felt had benefited from their traditional vote bank – Muslims and Yadavs. But with just 11 per cent Yadavs in the state and 19 per cent Muslims, he questioned the logic behind having a Yadav always as CM?
Owaisi also blamed the SP chief and former CM Akhilesh Yadav for withdrawing the 77 cases related to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots which had happened when he had been the CM. “If he had started the cases, then the Yogi Adityanath government could not have withdrawn the 77 cases,” he pointed out.
“They don’t want an independent leadership of Muslims in UP… When we talk about sharing of power, it pains them,” he added, said media reports.
On the issue of lack of infrastructure projects in the state and the district, the Hyderabad MP mocked CM Adityanath for not building an overbridge at Rudauli. The ‘CM Baba’ may not know about the bridge and will ask the name to be changed, Owaisi said, referring to the demand by BJP and Hindu outfits to rename at least six districts — Aligarh, Mainpuri, Sultanpur, Mirzapur, Firozabad and Sambhal.
Owaisi also raised the question of why only ₹16 crore has been spent out of the ₹116 crore sanctioned by the Centre to the UP government for village development with a significant minority population. And hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oft-repeated quote of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas’ of being a hollow one.
According to an India Today report, Owaisi has triggered a controversy by referring to Ayodhya as Faizabad in his rally speech. The BJP has objected to his remark and said that he was trying to divide the Hindus and the Muslims. Some of the Ayodhya seers were also allegedly upset over his remark.
When questioned about it, Owaisi said, “Ayodhya comes under the Faizabad parliamentary constituency. Why will I not consider it?”
The AIMM chief was criticised for allowing the jailed former MP Atiq Ahmad’s wife Shaista Parveen to join their party in his presence at Lucknow on Tuesday. Ahmad, who is currently in jail under the UP Gangster Act, has also announced that he was also joining the AIMIM.
Ahmad was a Samajwadi Party MP from Phulpur Lok Sabha constituency between 2004 and 2009 and has been a five-time MLA, said media reports. In 2019, he was shifted to a high-security jail in Ahmedabad on the order of the Supreme Court.
He defended the fact that Atiq Ahmad and his wife had joined AIMIM. According to Owaisi, 37 per cent of BJP MLAs in UP have criminal charges against them. There are 116 BJP MPs who have criminal charges and 87 per cent of these MPs have serious charges against them.
“As per a report of ADR (Association for Democratic Reforms), BJP has the highest number of MP and MLAs with criminal cases… As per the law, Atiq Ahmad has not been convicted in a single case,” said Owaisi.
The BJP Kannauj MP Subrat Pathak slammed Owaisi in his tweet. “Giving protection to notorious criminals like Atiq Ahmad in the name of providing protection to the community, inducting him and his wife in AIMIM shows Owaisi’s mentality,” tweeted Pathak in Hindi.