After stoking controversy with her “Muslims should become more communal” remarks, Aam Aadmi Party leader Shazia Ilmi on Wednesday defended her statement saying she was speaking sarcastically.
“I am shocked to see that a statement like this can be so distorted. I was speaking sarcastically,” Ilmi said in her defence.
“I had used the word ‘communal’ in sarcasm, so it is sad that I am being misunderstood,” she said further, adding “AAP doesn’t believe in communalism”.
“I was just saying till when will you vote for the so called secular parties like Congress and SP, who do nothing for you,” Ilmi said, seeking to clarify her controversial remarks.
“Neither is Meera Sanyal or Mayank Gandhi Muslim, nor is Kejriwal. I was asking to vote for them. So how is it communal?” she asked.
In the video which surfaced on Tuesday, Ilmi was shown as saying that Muslims’ votes split as they were “too secular” and they “should become communal” and vote keeping in mind “our own interest”.
“Don’t be much secular. Muslims are too secular and they should become communal. They are not communal and do not vote for themselves. Arvind Kejriwal is ours. Muslims have remained secular for long…have voted for the Congress and helped them win. Don’t be so secular and look at your house (community) this time. Other parties have their vote bank intact and Muslim votes split. This is a controversial statement, but we should look at our own interest,” Ilmi said in the video.
The remarks were slammed by her opponents as well as Muslim leaders.
The BJP condemned Ilmi’s remarks, and said it was planning to file a complaint with the Election Commission.
Congress’ Meem Afzal described the AAP Lok Sabha candidate’s remarks as “childish”.
“Shazia Ilmi’s comments are very childish. I am surprised that someone who belongs to such a secular family said all this,” Meem Afzal said.
Another Congress leader JP Agarwal said, “Bade hi ghatiya shabd hain, yeh (Shazia Ilmi) bhi Togadia ho gayi hain.”
Maulana Khalid Rasheed described Ilmi’s remarks as “objectionable”.
“It’s a highly objectionable comment from Shazia Ilmi… it’s an attempt to communalise elections,” he said.