A day after creating furore over her statement that Muslims should be communal for their own good, Aam Aadmi Party leader Shazia Ilmi on Thursday sought to defend herself, saying the remarks made had been picked up from a casual conversation and her tone and tenor was ironic.
“This comment has been picked up from a casual conversation and in an informal setting. It is quite clear from the tone and tenor of the comment that I am using the words ‘secular’ and ‘communal’ in an ironic manner,” she said.
“The point was simply to say that the Muslim community has allowed itself to be used far too long by the so-called secular politics. It would be much better if the community were to turn to their real-life material interests, the so-called community interests like education, employment, etc,” she added.
Ilmi further alleged that her statement had been distorted and misconstrued. “It should be noted that I am making a plea to vote for a candidate who is not Muslim, and in the name of a leader who is not Muslim. I am shocked to see a statement like this can be distorted and misconstrued as communal or inciting hatred. My party and I have always stood against any form of communalism,” she further added.
Controversy erupted when she was caught on camera asking Muslims to become communal and not be too secular. “Don’t be much secular. Muslims are too secular and they should become communal. They are not communal and do not vote for themselves. Arvind Kejriwal is ours. Muslims have remained secular for long... have voted for the Congress and helped them win. Don’t be so secular and look at your house (community) this time. Other parties have their vote bank intact and Muslim votes split. This is a controversial statement, but we should look at our own interest.”
On their part, the AAP has distanced herself from the remarks made by her. On their Twitter handle, they posted a message, ‘All our representatives should be careful in their choice of words so that there is no scope for misinterpretation.’ AAP leader Manish Sisodia condemned Ilmi’s remarks saying, “I've seen Shazia's clip. She should have not said it. AAP does not believe in communal politics. Our politics is to unite all Indians.”
Complete Coverage: Election 2014