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Want to eradicate poverty among Muslims, says Owaisi

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Hyderabad: Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday said he doesn’t want to break the country but wants to strengthen it, while fighting rights and development of his community.

“I don’t want to break the country, I want to strengthen it. I want to show Muslims are respected and first class citizens of the country,” said Owaisi while reacting to union minister Najma Heptulla’s allegation made during her visit to the Moulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) here on Sunday.

The Lok Sabha member from Hyderabad said the MANUU has become a propaganda centre for the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Minority Affairs Minister Heptula was at the central university to address a conference on education organised by Chancellor Zafar Sareshwala, a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Owaisi’s remark also came in the wake of reports that union Human Resource Development ministry ignored Azim Premji, Gulzar, Amitabh Bachchan and other prominent names to choose Sareshwala for the chancellor’s post.

Speaking after giving away educational kits to students of government-run Urdu medium schools at the party headquarters Darusalam, Owaisi said he was fighting for rights and justice.

“I want to eradicate poverty among Muslims and for this I want to see the girls and boys are educated,” he said.

Owaisi said since the dropout rate was high among Muslims due to poverty, the government should not put a cap on number of scholarships.

He said Kundu Committee in its report identified poverty as the main reason for Muslim students discontinuing their education.

The MIM leader said the prime minister talks about “Sab ka saath sab ka vikas” but the report of Kundu committee submitted last year had been put in cold storage.

“When we talk of education, they become silent. When we talk of reservation, RSS opposes it. When it comes to food, they impose ban on meat and beef. When we talk about Quran, they say it is not the soul of this country.”

Owaisi hit back at those criticizing him for his party’s decision to contest Bihar assembly elections in Seemanchal. Quoting figures from a baseline survey conducted by the minority affairs ministry in the four districts of the backward region, he said the literacy rate among Muslims and Dalits is lowest while the dropout rate is highest.

Alleging that the region was always neglected by successive governments in sanctioning schools and releasing funds for scholarships, the MIM chief asked his critics to clarify as to who is responsible for the region’s backwardness.

(IANS)

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Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party and Its Political Self Goals

Each one of the top leaders in the AAP Punjab unit is on its own journey

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Punjab's Aam Aadmi Party Is In Confusion, Due To Political Self Goals
Punjab's Aam Aadmi Party Is In Confusion, Due To Political Self Goals, Flickr

For a political party that was taking a serious shot at coming to power in Punjab less than two years ago, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) appears to have gone wayward.

Despite the electorate in Punjab reposing trust in the party by making it the principal opposition in the first ever assembly polls that it contested in February last year, the party leadership in Punjab and in Delhi have brought it to a new political low with a series of flip-flops and self-goals.

The AAP, which has 20 seats in the 117-member state assembly, relegated the formidable political alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP to a humiliating third slot but is fast losing its votebank in the state.

In recent by-elections, be it for Lok Sabha or assembly seats, the AAP candidates have not only fared badly but had to face humiliation by even losing their security deposits.

In the Shahkot assembly seat bypoll last month, the AAP candidate got a mere 1,900 votes.

Each one of the top leaders in the AAP Punjab unit is on its own journey while the Delhi leadership of the party, including AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab in-charge Manish Sisodia, show wariness, indifference and even suspicion about the Punjab leaders.

Senior AAP leader and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira is known to shoot off his mouth on every matter. His recent comments justifying the ‘Referendum 2020’ propped up by foreign-based radical elements who are demanding a separate Sikh homeland, or Khalistan, has sparked a new controversy for him and the AAP.

Khaira, a former Congressman, has left the party embarrassed on earlier occasions as well.

Just about two years back, the AAP was riding high on popularity in Punjab and many believed it was all set to form its first full-fledged state government.

That was not to be Kejriwal and his core group of leaders seem to have lost interest in Punjab affairs for now. Kejriwal’s apology to senior Akali Dal leader and former cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia earlier this year, which happened without even consulting the Punjab leadership of the party, led to resignations within the party with the cadres on the ground feeling disappointed.

AAP has scrapped the list of its Donors, leading to its own volunteers launching a Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against their own party.
AAP has scrapped the list of its Donors, leading to its own volunteers launching a Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against their own party.

AAP Punjab unit president and MP Bhagwant Mann, who has had his own string of controversies earlier, and co-president Aman Arora, resigned from their posts after Kejriwal’s sudden apology.

Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, in the run-up to the 2017 assembly polls, had openly accused Majithia of patronising the drugs mafia in Punjab. They even called him a “drug lord”.

When Majithia went to court in a defamation case against the AAP leadership, the Delhi leaders chickened out and Kejriwal wrote an apology letter to Majithia.

Offering apologies and doing voluntary service (kar seva) to atone for political sins is nothing new for AAP leaders.

The ‘Youth Manifesto’ of AAP, released before the assembly polls, carried a photograph of ‘Harmandir Sahib’, the holiest and most revered Sikh shrine of Sikh religion, with an image of a broom, the AAP’s party symbol. This led to a religious uproar in Sikh dominated Punjab.

Kejriwal and other leaders washed utensils at the Golden Temple complex to “atone” for the political and religious faus pax.

AAP leader Ashish Khetan compared the same manifesto to religious scriptures like Granth Sahib, the Bible and the Gita. The AAP had to again seek forgiveness for this.

The AAP’s stand on sharing of river waters varies in Delhi and Punjab, leaving the party embarrassed at times.

Chanda Bandh Satyagraha back in Delhi after successful Campaign in Punjab, Feb 24th 2017
Chanda Bandh Satyagraha back in Delhi after successful Campaign in Punjab, Feb 24th 2017

The electorate in Punjab, which gave four seats to AAP (out of 13 Lok Sabha seats), has been left disaapointed. Two of the AAP MPs continue to be suspended from the party for the last three years.

Also read: Dogfight in Aam Aadmi Party : The audio clip of Kumar Vishwas reveals the party is no longer for principles but for personal aspirations

If AAP is to revive its position in Punjab, its leadership — in Punjab and in Delhi — would have to take drastic steps to stop the erosion of its base. Otherwise, the party would end up being a one-time wonder. (IANS)