Aam Aadmi Party leader Shazia Ilmi was at the centre of a controversy on Tuesday over her remarks that Muslims should become "communal" for their own good when they vote this time and not be "too secular".
The Arvind Kejriwal-headed AAP ticked Ilmi off and distanced itself from the controversial remarks, saying it does not endorse her views. However, Ilmi stood by her comments, which, she said is "play of words".
The AAP response came hours after a video of Ilmi's comments went viral on social media and the footage shown on TV channels, just two days ahead of the crucial sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections.
In the video, which surfaced today, Ilmi said that Muslims' votes split as they were "too secular" and they "should become communal" and vote keeping in mind "our own interest".
"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 votebank intact and Muslim votes split. This is a controversial statement, but we should look at our own interest," Ilmi, AAP candidate from Ghaziabad, said in the video, in which she is having a conversation with members of the Muslim community.
The AAP said it does not believe in this kind of politics nor does it endorse it.
"All our representatives should be careful in their choice of words so that there is no scope for misinterpretation," the AAP said in a message posted on its twitter handle.
"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," party leader Manish Sisodia tweeted.
With her remarks triggering a controversy, Ilmi said she had not made any remark that incited hatred.
"I stand by it. I said, we should think of our community first. When others are not secular then why should we be secular. It is play of words," she told TV channels.
"I said it half sarcastically. Somebody was saying Muslims are very communal. I am saying Muslims are not communal, in fact they are very secular. They need to be communal. This does not mean to incite hatred. They must think of themselves and must not be political slaves.
"What have the political parties done for Muslims in terms of political empowerment and representation in either government or private jobs, education... in terms of economic and political opportunities," she told TV channels.
"I was essentially saying when you cast a vote you want to better your lot. Think of yourself...you cannot be scared of Modi and RSS all the time," she added.
Image: Video grab of Shazia Ilmi's purported conversation with Muslim leaders