‘Lack of leadership’ in Gujarat Congress drew Asifa to BJP fold

Asifa Khan

Asifa Khan  

Once an ‘understudy’ of Ahmed Patel, Congress strongman and political secretary of All India Congress Committee president Sonia Gandhi, and now Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s suave Muslim face Asifa Khan says it is lack of leadership in the State Congress and her frustration over the fact that few things related to Gujarat move in New Delhi that drew her to the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“There is no decentralisation of power in the Congress in the State, while Ahmed-bhai has his hands full,” Ms. Khan, who is in her forties, asserts.

“I have all respect for Ahmed-bhai but he is too busy. Because of this, issues related to Gujarat are either left behind, forgotten or remain unattended,” she told The Hindu in an interview.

‘I felt helpless’

“I felt helpless, stifled. As against that, even a foot-soldier of the BJP could do much more than me. People in my area were wondering I could do little despite me knowing him well,” she said, claiming that Mr. Patel even offered her a Lok Sabha ticket in 2009.

“But eventually, the ticket did not work out,” Ms. Khan said, outright denying that this was the reason for her quitting the Congress. And in the same vein, she added that she had not joined the BJP expecting a ticket. She was offered the membership of Censor Board in 2005 when Sharmila Tagore was the chairperson by Mr. Patel, but this too did not materialise.

Ms. Khan hails from Bharuch district of Gujarat, to which Mr. Patel also belongs. She was handpicked by him as a national spokesperson of Congress’ women wing and also of the State Congress.

When told that Mr. Modi himself faced charges of keeping all powers with him, Ms. Khan, who has worked as a journalist in local Gujarati newspaper Sandesh and briefly for Zee News, says, “I have seen things working here.”

Asked how could a journalist, a woman and a Muslim think of joining the BJP, she said, “My work as a journalist, my sensitivity as a woman and my views as a liberal Muslim are the reasons.”

“As a journalist, a woman and a Muslim and the milieu I lived in, I had to do a balancing act. Learning to balance my stories to ensure that I am not partial to any community groomed me,” she said with a strong sense of conviction.

Asked if she and her community had excused the Modi government for the 2002 riots, she says, “Every Muslim, every Hindu feels it was unfortunate that it had to happen when he was ruling the State. But I must tell you that justice is being delivered under his very rule, he is not creating any hindrances anywhere.”

“This CM is time-tested, there is all-round growth under his rule, there is peace,” declares Ms. Khan, who had left her MA in English Literature studies to plunge into journalism. “I am MA-I,” she smiles.

‘Development man’

“I myself went to the Chief Minister, who had given me appointment for only five minutes; but the meeting stretched for 55 minutes. He is a development man and a different man than the image I had [formed of him],” Ms. Khan, whose role in the party will be to interact with the media, says.

There is no decentralisation of power in Congress in the State, she says

She joined BJP as she was a ‘liberal Muslim’ and ‘Modi was time-tested’

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