After pulling off surprise victories in the last month's Assembly polls in Maharashtra, Hyderabad-based political party AIMIM is seeking to expand its footprint in other States.
"In last three years, we have been working hard in Maharashtra and Karnataka. God willing, these results will be replicated in Uttar Pradesh, in Karnataka, in West Bengal. We want to go and work over there. What is wrong in that?," AIMIM President and Hyderabad Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi said in a Meet-the-Press organised by Telangana Union of Working Journalists on Tuesday.
"I am telling the minority community that involve yourself in Parliamentary democracy. Constitution has given you rights. You ask for that right by involving yourself. So far, you have been only going out and voting for all these political parties. Now, you become a candidate. You become the master of your destiny. What is wrong in that...," he said.
All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) made its poll debut in Maharashtra walking away with substantial chunk of Muslim votes in many areas and winning two seats, one of them in Mumbai, in the October 15 elections.
Though only two of its 26 nominees won, it upset the calculation of established parties in many constituencies.
Asked how the AIMIM planned to expand in other States, Owaisi said he does not dream of becoming a national leader.
"I am a street leader and I am happy with that. With my party's participation (in other States), more confidence will be created in Muslim youth in Parliamentary democracy.
"I just want to tell the Muslim youth, who are worried about communalism, about the growth of BJP, not getting their right, to come to the political process and support your party. I am not saying I would support only Muslims." Dalit and backward classes brethren are there with us.
We would like to work by taking along everyone. Parties have lost their credibility. At the end of the day, it is for people to decide," Owaisi said.
The MIM leader hit out at Shiv Sena over the reported editorial in its mouthpiece `Saamna' that accused his party of "poisoning" the minds of minority community members.
"What poisoning we are doing? In Maharashtra election, I went to Solapur, Parbhani and other places, and faced preventive police action. Election Commission recorded my speeches. You (Shiv Sena) are also after us.
"We did not say anything. If we said something (objectionable), you show. What poisoning we have done. Has Uddhav Thackeraysaab forgotten the Srikrishna Commission report (which made critical references to some Sena members in connection with 1992-93 riots in Mumbai)," Owaisi said.
To a query on senior Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde's MLA-daughter Praniti's comments seeking a ban on AIMIM, he said his party has sent a legal notice on the matter and would pursue it.
He said the recent elections burst the "myth" of a Muslim vote bank in the country. "There has never been a Muslim vote bank".
Asked about reports of an AIMIM leader being involved in an atrocity against a girl in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, Owaisi said he condemns the reported incident and added that police should take strict action against the guilty.