Owaisi welcomes jailed former U.P. MP Atiq Ahmad to AIMIM

Goal is to provide ‘independent Muslim voice’ in State, he says

September 07, 2021 05:09 pm | Updated 05:09 pm IST - LUCKNOW

Shaista Parveen, wife of jailed gangster and former MP Atiq Ahmad, joins AIMIM in presence of party chief Asaduddin Owaisi, in Lucknow, Tuesday, Sep 7, 2021.

Shaista Parveen, wife of jailed gangster and former MP Atiq Ahmad, joins AIMIM in presence of party chief Asaduddin Owaisi, in Lucknow, Tuesday, Sep 7, 2021.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday welcomed jailed former MP from Prayagraj, Atiq Ahmad, and his family into the party. He said his goal was serve as an “independent Muslim voice” in Uttar Pradesh, where he is on a three-day tour.

Mr. Ahmad, a former MP with the Samajwadi Party from Phulpur, is lodged in jail. He faces several criminal charges and has been designated a gangster by the Yogi Adityanath government. Several properties linked to him have been demolished and people close to him booked.

‘Love for country’

Mr. Ahmad’s wife, Shaista Parveen, who addressed a press conference along with Mr. Owaisi here, read out a message by her husband on why he is joining the AIMIM. Mr. Ahmad said he had considered Mr. Owaisi’s love for the country, minorities and Dalits and his “faith in the Constitution.”

Mr. Owaisi defended Mr. Ahmad, saying the latter had not been convicted in any case. He said that 37 % of the BJP MLAs in U.P. and 116 MPs from the party faced criminal charges. He pointed to the terror charges faced by Bhopal BJP MP Pragya Thakur and the 77 cases linked to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots withdrawn by the Adityanath government. Mr. Adityanath had denied permission to prosecute himself in a case linked to an alleged hate speech in Gorakhpur, he observed.

“This makes it clear that if a politician is named Pragya, Ajay, Kuldeep, Sangeet, Suresh or Kapil, he or she will be a lokpriya neta [popular leader]. But those named Atiq and Mukhtar will be [called] bahubali [musclemen],” he stated.

After tasting success in Bihar, the AIMIM is preparing to contest 100 seats in the 403-member U.P. Assembly in elections scheduled for early 2022.

Muslim-Yadav combination

Mr. Owaisi questioned the Muslim-Yadav combination of the SP, saying that while Muslims voted for the SP’s Yadav leadership and elected them Chief Minister, when it came to giving representation to Muslims, who were almost twice the population of the Yadav community, the party went missing. The equation was akin to “slavery”, he alleged.

He referred to the 2019 Lok Sabha result to press that his entry into U.P. was unfairly seen as a step that would communally polarise voters. The BJP won even when the SP and BSP came together, he said. “Who was responsible for that? Me? Musalman ne toh jholi bhar bhar ke vote diya [Muslims filled their bags with votes],” he added.

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