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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Used 'communal' word in an ironic manner: Shazia

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 23, 2014
First Published: 22:16 IST(23/4/2014) | Last Updated: 07:59 IST(24/4/2014)

More than 24 hours after a video clip showing AAP leader Shazia Ilmi exhorting Muslims to be "more communal" went viral, the party has not taken any action against her on Wednesday but just said her choice of words was wrong.
 
But, through the day, both Ilmi and AAP drew flak for the statement with the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and even religious leaders condemning it.
 
The AAP and Ilmi were caught on the wrong foot after a sting operation video clip was released on social media showing her exhorting the Muslims to stop being secular and "be more communal" in this election.

Read: AAP leader Shazia Ilmi says Muslims should be communal for their own good, sparks row
 
The 1.19-minute video was shot during her meeting with Muslims as part of the campaigning for South Mumbai's AAP candidate Meera Sanyal.
 
It was only later in the evening that Ilmi, a national executive member, issued an official statement reiterating her earlier stand that she was using the words "secular" and "communal" in an ironic manner. She also claimed she was making a plea for a non-Muslim candidate and in the name of a leader who is not Muslim.
 
"Nothing can be farther from my intent and indeed my politics. It is quite clear from the tone and tenor of the conversation that I am using the word "secular" and "communal" in an ironic manner and in an informal casual setting wherein a 90-second video clip purports to put context to an half hour conversation," Ilmi said in the statement.
 
The party endorsed her statement by saying that it (too) would like to reiterate that the AAP does not believe in politics of communalism and is strictly against it.
 
"Neither will we evade or take lightly, concerns of AAP supporters and general public over such a serious issue," it said in a statement.
 
The Arvind Kejriwal-led party, however, did not take any action against Ilmi. "With almost the entire top leadership either at Varanasi or campaigning in different parts and preparation for Kejriwal's road show ahead of the nomination filing literally gave us no time for anything else," said a party source.
 
It is unlikely, however, that the party will take any action against Ilmi any soon. Kejriwal too told a television channel at Varanasi, "(She) didn't say anything wrong; only her choice of words was wrong."
 
Even when he agreed that Ilmi should not have used those words – communal or secular – Mufti M Mukarram Ahmed, the influential Imam of Delhi's Masjid Fatehpuri, said: "She should not have used the word communal, not for Muslims nor for anybody else. She should not have used any such word that is not allowed as per the Constitution."
 
Both BJP and Congress too came down heavily. "AAP has completely forgotten its plank of fighting against corruption, on which the party was originally formed. They are disheartened with their status, hence, they are using the communal card to divide the people. Therefore, it is important that the Election Commission takes action," Balbir Punj, BJP leader said.

Read: AAP must show Shazia Ilmi where she is wrong for its own good
 
Echoed Congress' Meem Afzal: "It was a very childish statement. She doesn't know the meaning of communal. It was because of communalism that the Babri Masjid was demolished, which was followed by riots all over the country."
 
In her statement, Ilmi also said the Muslim community has allowed itself to be used far too long by the so-called secular politics. "It would be much better if the community were to turn to their real-life material interests, the so-called community interests like education, employment, etc.
 
"It should also be noted that I am making a plea to vote for a candidate who is not Muslim, and in the name of a leader who is not Muslim. My party and I have always stood against any form of communalism and shall continue to do so," she asserted.

Watch: Shazia Ilmi's controversial video


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