Ahead of the polls, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi has been campaigning in various parts of Uttar Pradesh and sending out a clear message that, in his opinion, Muslims in the state need their own political strength and leadership to be respected and not discriminated against.
In an interview, Owaisi said, “Muslims will never be safe under BJP. It is because of the BJP that Muslims are seen with suspicion. The BJP is destroying he Muslim community’s businesses. Where is ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’ (together, for everyone’s growth)? Why is the government not developing Gyanvapi mosque (in Varanasi) and Ajmer dargah?”
Addressing a public rally in western Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, AIMIM chief Owasi had said, “I want to ask you, when will Muslims wake up? I am appealing to all of you that UP’s 19 per cent Muslims need their own political strength, leadership and participation to get respect, education for our youth, equal participation and opportunities.”
The AIMIM will be contesting 100 out of 403 seats in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election in 2022. On this, Owasi said, “Muslims should be given their due in this country. I am not an astrologer; I cannot tell you how many seats I will win. But we will fight for Muslims and their rights in the state.”
With the uncle-nephew duo of Shivpal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav forming an alliance for the state election, the question now remains who will AIMIM tie up with? So far, the party has stayed silent on this.
In the past, political commentators have blamed Owasi for ‘splitting voters’ during elections. On this, he said, “Every election my party and I are accused of causing the votes to split – it is utter nonsense. People say we are dividing votes, but if political parties don’t want votes to be divided, then they should form an alliance with us. We are open to alliances but others don’t want it.”
On 18 December, Owaisi criticised the union governemnt’s recent move to raise the minimum legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years.
“Now, as per law, you can maintain sexual relations with a woman at the age of 18, but can’t marry her? What’s PM Modi’s problem with marriage?”
He said, “The BJP will say Owaisi and Muslims don’t want women to rise and grow. I want to ask Modi ji – when did he become our uncle? Uncles are the ones who just sit around and ask questions. Now, the ‘uncle’ is saying don’t marry.”