Jailed gangster and former member of Parliament Atiq Ahmad and his wife on Tuesday joined the All India Majlis e Ittehadul Muslimeen in the presence of its chief Asaduddin Owaisi, drawing a sharp reaction from the Bharatiya Janata Party which said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will not allow "Jinnah's jihadi mentality" to flourish in Uttar Pradesh.
While Atiq's wife Shaista Praveen joined the AIMIM at a press conference in Lucknow, Atiq Ahmad joined the new party in absentia.
Owaisi inducted the former Samajwadi Party leader Ahmad and his wife claiming that the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party used Muslims as slaves in their parties.
Defending his decision to induct Ahmad, who has several criminal cases lodged against him, Owaisi asserted that even several BJP leaders were also facing several cases.
"In UP, 37 per cent BJP MLAs have criminal cases, 116 BJP MPs have serious criminal cases and most of them have cases related to crime against women," Owaisi said.
The BJP reacted sharply to his assertion and the development.
”Giving protection to a notorious like Atiq Ahmed in the name of providing protection to the community, inducting him and his wife in AIMIM shows Owais' mentality. But keep in mind that Yogi Ji will not allow Jinnah's jihadi mentality to flourish in UP," BJP Kannauj MP Subrat Pathak said in a tweet in Hindi.
While inducting Ahmad and his wife into AIMIM, Owais also said his party has made all booth-level preparations to contest 100 out of total 403 assembly seats in UP.
"Muslims used to do 'ghulami' (slavery) of Samajwadi Party and BSP and raise slogans in their favour and to make their government. But when it comes to giving them participation, they did not talk," he said
"The AAP, SP, BSP did not want anyone from the Muslim community to emerge as a leader. As I am talking of giving participation to Muslims, they are feeling uncomfortable," he said.
"When it comes to giving participation and representation to the Muslims, they say it will increase communalism. The SP-BSP contested elections together, yet the BJP won. Muslims had given them votes. Where have all those votes gone?" he said.
Owaisi asserted that his party's objective is to defeat the BJP, and said he is with Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party and other parties are also with them.
On giving tickets to Hindus, Owiasi said, "The OBCs are our brothers, we will give tickets to Dalits also and they will win.”
A five-time legislator and one-time MP, Ahmad, now over 60 years, has more than 90 criminal cases, including those of murder, abduction, illegal mining, extortion, intimidation and fraud, against him. He is lodged in a Gujarat jail.
He was shifted there from Uttar Pradesh on the Supreme Court's directions in 2019.
Till now, the police have taken action on his properties worth more than Rs 200 crore. These actions were taken against Atiq Ahmed under the Gangster Act.
Besides demolishing the buildings illegally built by Atiq and his men, the Allahabad district administration has also attached several of his properties and those of his associates.