Refused permission for rallies, the firebrand All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president, Asaduddin Owaisi, says the Uttar Pradesh government is afraid of him. It is muzzling free speech and he will lodge a complaint with the election commission.
The Lok Sabha member from Hyderabad was allowed an indoor meeting in Lucknow on Saturday but the Kanpur administration denied him permission for a similar event for August 14.
The 47-year-old Lincoln’s Inn-trained barrister talks to M Tariq Khan about AIMIM plans for Uttar Pradesh, where the party is set to makes its poll debut in 2017 state election.
On being denied permission to hold rallies
The Bajrang Dal can openly hold an arms training camp. The BJP, BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) and the Congress can organise rallies and yatras, but I can’t address a public rally. Why?
I was allowed to address only two public gatherings ahead of the Bikapur by-election in Faizabad. The events passed off peacefully. They have no case against me to deny what basically is my fundamental right.
Why are they afraid of me? Don’t muzzle my voice like this. Take me on politically. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav should realise that whatever goes round, comes round. Tomorrow, he may not be in power. How will he react in a similar situation? I’m compiling a list of SPs (superintendents of police) and DMs (district magistrates) who have denied me permission, put it before the EC and ask how can it hold free and fair elections with such officers at the helm.
On a Muslim front
I am open to alliance with like-minded political parties but AIMIM won’t be part of a Muslim front. I would like to keep my cards close to my chest right now, as talks are underway and it would be premature to say anything on the number of seats we will contest.
On being labelled the B team of BJP
The BJP won 71 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 in Uttar Pradesh. We did not contest the elections in UP. Who is to be blamed for BJP’s landslide victory? Obviously, it were the wrong policies of the Samajwadi Party and the BSP.
These parties call me communal when I talk about Dalit-Muslim unity. Ok. I am willing to accept the tag. But, who among them is really secular? They should let people know.
Similar allegations were levelled against Kanshi Ram when he formed BAMCEF and later BSP. The condition of Dalits would have been worse than Muslims had he not done so.
On minority status of Aligarh Muslim University
The BJP government’s opposition to an act passed by the Parliament (that confers the minority status on AMU) is unparallelled in the history of parliamentary democracy in this country. They (BJP) had laughed at me when, as a member of the standing committee of the Parliament on National Judicial Commission (NJC), I had opposed its formation. The Supreme Court rightly struck it down. The minority status of the AMU has to be preserved at all cost. The BJP does not realise the inherent complications and cascading effect on several other linguistic institutions if it tries to change AMU’s status.