Baba Siddique joins NCP, son Zeeshan next, say NCP leaders
Former minister Baba Siddique criticized the Congress for using the Muslim community for their own benefit and announced his induction into the NCP.
MUMBAI: Former minister Baba Siddique on Saturday slammed the Congress for claiming to stand for the minorities, especially Muslims. Siddique did not name the party but left no doubt as to who he was referring to. The politician made the statement at Kherwadi in Bandra East where his induction into the Ajit Pawar-led NCP took place with much fanfare.
“They are indulging in the politics of perception,” said Siddique. “A delusion has been created that they stand by a particular community (Muslims). In fact, they are using the community for their own benefit.”
The former minister claimed that he always spoke his mind. “This is the reason I had differences with my party leaders,” he said, adding, “I would like to say that I will never betray the NCP.” Siddique announced the snapping of his 48-year old ties on Thursday by resigning from the primary membership of the Congress.
Siddique has been facing an enforcement directorate (ED) investigation in an alleged ₹500-crore Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scam that was registered against him in 2014. In 2017, the ED conducted searches at properties belonging to him and others, and grilled him for around eight hours. In 2018, the ED attached some of his properties worth ₹462 crore.
Meanwhile, Siddique’s son and Bandra East MLA Zeeshan is also expected to follow in his father’s footsteps. This was indicated by NCP working president Praful Patel during his address at the Kherwadi gathering. “I will also take Zeeshan along with us. You don’t have to worry about it, “ said Patel.
Before the official induction, Ajit Pawar, Praful Patel and other senior leaders of the NCP visited Zeeshan’s office in Bandra, where Zeeshan and his father welcomed them. Zeeshan has been denying that he is leaving the Congress.
Siddique is a three-term MLA from the Vandre West assembly constituency but lost the seat to the BJP’s Ashish Shelar in the 2014 and 2019 assembly polls. He has held positions such as minister of state for food & civil supplies, labour, food and drug administration (FDA) and consumer protection in the erstwhile Congress-NCP government in the early 2000s. He was also chairman of MHADA’s Mumbai Board from 2000 to 2004. He is considered a prominent Muslim face of the party in the city. His son, Zeeshan, is chief of the Mumbai Congress’ youth wing.
At the function, Ajit Pawar stressed that the NCP had not lost its secular credentials even if it had joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). “We follow the ideology of secularism,” he said. “We believe in the equality of all Indians, irrespective of caste and colour.”
With Siddique’s induction, the NCP has bagged a popular Muslim face in Mumbai where the party has been struggling to strengthen its base.