Prominent Muslims scholars and social activists joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi on Thursday, praising its leader Arvind Kejriwal for his "issue-based politics".
Of the 30-odd persons who joined AAP, many are alumni of Aligarh Muslim University and few others from Janta Dal (United). The new entrants included a range of persons from the Muslim community, including a teacher, civil engineers, milk vendor and grassroot leaders.
"Muslims need to be brought to the main stream. We do not want any alms, we demand a partnership in this country. (Till now) we have been coming together on non-issues raised by political parties ridden with moral corruption. But AAP is an issue-based party. We need to support it," said Irfanullah Khan, a former AMU student leader and now a social activist in Delhi's Zakir Nagar.
"A major reason for joining AAP is that while Congress and the BJP are playing Hindu and Muslim card, Kejriwal is playing the 'India' card," said Firoz Bakht Ahmed, a teacher and heritage activist.
Choudhary Mashkool Ahmed talked about 'victimisation of Muslims' while Syed Mohd Ismail said, "Both Congress and BJP are enemies of the community and AAP's broom (election symbol) will clean this dirt."
Maqbool Ahmed, a resident of Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh, alleged government officials in his state kept him in jail after implicating him in the murders of five persons. "I haven't even killed a mosquito in my life and they say I killed five persons," he said.
"All political parties are making all out efforts to fight the 2014 elections on Hindu Muslim factor and not 'Hindustan' issue," said Yogendra Yadav, social scientist and AAP leader.
Lack of education, housing and unemployment are the main issues plaguing the "disadvantaged minority", he said.
Kejriwal said both Congress and BJP have used Muslims and Hindus respectively as vote banks. "But now the people of the country has started asking questions. Muslims want to know why Muslims are unsafe in a place like Delhi?"
"It is not fair to brand a community as terrorist. Terrorists are traitor, he does not belong to any religion. If Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians come together, we can demolish the vote bank politics of the established parties," Kejriwal said.