Tuesday, April 22, 2014

AAP leader Shazia Ilmi sparks row, says Muslims should be communal for own good // Shazia Ilmi clarifies ‘communal’ remark, says she used it in sarcasm

NB: It is apparent that Shazia Ilmi has not thought about the meaning of secularism and communalism. It is not enough to say she is interpreting these terms in her own way - words have a conventional meaning & political leaders are expected to choose them carefully. Ilmi has not preached hatred or violence, but she should know that communalism is associated with hate and violence. Don’t the parivar-type communalists say the same kind of thing? That Hindus have shown enough tolerance and should be more mindful of their community’s interests? How would Ms Ilmi have reacted if some candidate had said Hindus should be less secular? In any case, there’s no shortage of communal minded Muslim leaders, and her comment, even if it was ‘a play on words’, will merely play into the hands of her opponents. Ilmi has done herself and her party a disservice - DS

Days before the crucial fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Shazia Ilmi has landed into a controversy because of her alleged "Muslims ought to be communal this time" remark. The party distanced itself from her remark and said she should not have said it.
"Muslims are very secular. Muslims ought to be more communal. (They) do not vote for their own. (AAP leader). Arvind Kejriwal is your own. I say, it is enough of secularism," Ilmi, who contested the Lok Sabha polls from Ghaziabad earlier in the month, is seen saying in the video. "Here helping the Congress win, there someone else. Please do not be so secular. Muslims are secular. They will continue to vote for others. Other parties don't do such things?" she said. It is a short 1.19 minute video clip, apparently a sting operation, where Ilmi is seen talking to Muslims. The video, believed to be shot in Mumbai, where she had gone for campaigning for AAP's South Mumbai candidate Mira Sanyal, shows Ilmi talking with her head covered with a dupatta. Mumbai goes to polls on April 24.

Ilmi, a member of AAP's national executive, is seen further saying "agree, this is controversial, but this is important" in reaction to a person sitting next to her who said "we are afraid, we have to vote".  The clip ends with Ilmi saying, "Kaam badal dijiye … lado aur jito (change the work. Fight and win)." On being contacted, the AAP leader told HT, "Communal means 'of the community', not in a hateful manner. What I was telling them is not to be a political slave to a party. Not to live in fear." "It was more of a sarcastic comment, play of words," she added.  Later talking to a television channel, Ilmi did not deny the contents of the video but said she does not remember where she said it as she had attended several meetings. "I haven't said anything wrong. Congress has done nothing for us all these years," she told the news channel.
She also said, "This is my interpretation of secular versus communal." Manish Sisodia, AAP spokesperson, said: "It is wrong. She should not have said it. The party does not believe in this." Ahead of the Delhi assembly elections in 2013, when Ilmi had contested for the MLA seat from RK Puram, her name was embroiled in an alleged sting operation showing her and several other AAP candidates asking for donation in lieu of favours.