The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress on Friday criticised All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen leader Waris Pathan for his controversial remarks suggesting that India’s Muslims could dominate other communities.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Pathan’s remarks showed the “conspiracy” going on in the name of anti-Citizenship Act protests, PTI reported. “No one from these liberal brigades is making an issue of the divisive comments made by Waris Pathan,” Patra said. “All of them are the same. Haath mein samvidhaan, dil mein Waris Pathan [the Constitution in hand, Waris Pathan in the heart].”
Patra said other political parties would have come out in the streets to protest if a BJP leader had made similar remarks. He claimed there was a conspiracy to defame the government and mislead Muslims.
Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “AIMIM and BJP are two sides of the same coin. AIMIM is pushing the agenda of communal polarisation at BJP’s instance.”
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said strict action should be taken against Pathan. “Congress has always fought against fundamentalist ideology,” he said. “BJP and AIMIM complement each other and both spread hatred through religious sentiment.”
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut accused the Asaduddin Owaisi-led party of repeatedly misleading Indian Muslims and trying to poison their minds, PTI reported. “Who has given you the right to become leader of Muslims in the country?” Raut asked. “The Shiv Sena is in power in Maharashtra and hence it is exercising restraint...If such comments are repeated, Shiv Sena will respond in the same language.”
Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik condemned Pathan’s remarks and called them “divisive and inflammatory”. “Is there a fixed match between AIMIM and BJP for making communal remarks?” he asked.
The Congress and the NCP are partners in the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra. Pathan is a former member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
What Waris Pathan said
Speaking at a rally in Karnataka last week, Waris Pathan had purportedly said, in the context of protests against the amended Citizenship Act: “To those saying we have only put our women at the forefront – only the lionesses are out and you’re already sweating. Imagine what would happen if we all came together. We are 15 crore, but that can outweigh 100 crore, remember that.”
After a video of his speech began doing the rounds on Thursday, Pathan said that he could “never say anything intentionally or unintentionally that hurts the sentiments of any caste, community or gender”. He said he was angry “just like many other Indians” about the Citizenship Amendment Act. “Neither me nor my party supports anything that creates a divide between people on the basis of caste, creed and religion.”
On Friday, AIMIM’s Maharashtra unit chief Imtiyaz Jaleel said his party does not support Pathan’s statement, Hindustan Times reported. “The party will seek an explanation from him over the remarks,” he said. “If needed, we will come out with a set of dos and don’ts for the party workers to be while giving speech.”