Several Muslim scholars, social activists and leaders from other political parties joined Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Thursday.
Among the 100-odd new entrants are many Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jamia Milia Islamia alumni and some members of the Janata Dal (United). Among them are a teacher, a civil engineer and a milk vendor.
The AAP will contest all 70 seats in the coming assembly polls. Muslims form 15% of Delhi’s population and dominate in about 12 seats.
“We do not want any alms, we demand a partnership in this country. We have been coming together on non-issues raised by political parties. But AAP is an issue-based party. We need to support it,” said Irfanullah Khan, a former AMU student leader and chairperson of the Jamia Nagar Coordination Committee.
Firoz Bakht Ahmed, teacher and heritage activist, said: “While the Congress and the BJP are playing the Hindu and Muslim cards, Kejriwal is playing the ‘India’ card.”
Maqbool Ahmed from Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh, shared how various governments in the state kept him in jail after implicating him in murder cases. “I haven’t even killed a mosquito in my life and they say I killed five people,” he said.
Other eminent leaders who joined AAP included Mashkur Ahmed, Arif Jamal, Shakil Malik, Shahid Azad and Rais Ahmed.
Yogender Yadav, social scientist and AAP leader, said the lack of education, housing and unemployment were the main issues for the “disadvantaged minority”.
Kejriwal said both the Congress and the BJP had used Muslims and Hindus as vote banks. “But now the people of the country have started asking questions. Muslims want to know why they are unsafe in a place like Delhi?”
“It is not fair to brand a community as terrorist. A terrorist is a traitor … he does not have a religion. If Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians come together, we can demolish the vote bank politics of the established parties,” Kejriwal said.
Ram Sevak Upadhyay, president of the Samajwadi Party’s Karawal Nagar unit, also joined the party, a statement said.