In their run-up to the Gujarat Assembly polls scheduled later this year, regional players are leaving no stone unturned to provide the electorate with alternatives. Two strong contenders who have already made several recce visits to Gujarat are AAP party president Arvind Kejriwal and All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s (AIMIM) Asaduddin Owaisi.
Sunday saw the Hyderabad-based Owaisi hold audience in state BJP president C.R. Paatil’s turf, Surat. He began the day with a visit to Hazrat Khwaja Dana Dargah in Surat. Thereon, the AIMIM contingent proceeded to a public meeting at Mithi Khadi, Limbayat. “The meeting saw a huge turn-out, given that the area has a sizeable Muslim pocket. However, it was surprising to see the rousing welcome we received at all places,” stated an AIMIM member who was part of the contingent.
Speaking to a scribe who questioned him about the ongoing Gyanvapi dispute, Owaisi stated: “This entire approach is unconstitutional. The Varanasi court’s order allowing survey and videography inside Gyanvapi mosque was in ‘blatant violation’ of the Places of Worship Act, 1991. This Act is in continuance with the Aug 15, 1947 arrangement which held that religious sites would continue to maintain their character as on that day.” When asked to comment on the RSS decision to make national anthem compulsory in madrasas, Owaisi quipped back saying: “Who can refuse singing the national anthem?”
However, some Muslim MLAs of the Congress have prepared “proof” to show that AIMIM is indeed BJP’s “Team B.” Leading the group is this Daryapur MLA Gyasuddin Sheikh, who is reportedly aligning his party cadre into a systematic foray.