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‘Rahul Gandhi practicing actual Hindutva, and not soft Hindutva’

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The Hyderabad MP says no one wants to use the word ‘Muslim’, accuses BJP of furthering its agenda through NRC.

New Delhi: The Congress is practicing “actual Hindutva”, not soft Hindutva, Asaduddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), said Wednesday, referring to Rahul Gandhi’s visits to temples during the Gujarat assembly elections.

“If the president of the main opposition party is called janeu-dhari (someone who wears the sacred Brahminical thread) by his partymen, that in itself is a loud, clear and blatant message for all the people who are not part of the varna system. They are not able to show any difference between them and the BJP. The BJP’s strong point is Hindutva. You can’t become the BJP to defeat the BJP,” Owaisi said in an interview to ThePrint.

Also Read: Govt should provide places for namaz if it doesn’t want us to pray on roads: Muslim groups.

The Hyderabad MP also berated the Congress president for his purported remark that his is “not a Muslim party” and pointed out that Rahul Gandhi had visited 28 temples during his Gujarat campaign, but not a single mosque or dargah or madrasa.

“There is this kind of antagonism, reservation about the word ‘Muslim’! The Prime Minister says the Congress is a Mussalman party. Muslim has become a criminal word or what? No one wants to use the word. As if by using the word there would be polarisation! Are they accepting the reality that if they talk of Muslim empowerment, there would be polarisation? If that’s the reality of our politics, it’s a sad day,” he said.

Owaisi also slammed Rahul for inviting to his Iftaar party former President Pranab Mukherjee, who, Owaisi said, had “called Muslims invaders” and “praised” K.B. Hedgewar, the founding Sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in his speech at the RSS headquarters.

“He (Pranab Mukherjee) was sitting right beside him (at the Iftaar party). Then, when a Muslim delegation meets him (the Congress President), he says the Congress is not a Muslim party. What kind of message is the Congress sending?”

Also Read: Modi govt using NRC as a tool to divide society, says Congress at key party meeting.

No tie-up with Congress in Telangana, Maharashtra

Owaisi’s scathing criticism of the Congress has come at a time when his party is getting ready to take on the grand old party in Telangana in an alliance with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti. He also declared that Akhtarun Imam would be the AIMIM candidate in Bihar’s Kishanganj, the Lok Sabha seat presently held by the Congress.

The AIMIM was part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) for eight years between 2004 and 2012. It pulled out following the arrest of its MLAs amid a political row over the renovation of a temple adjacent to the Charminar in Hyderabad.

Also Read: As BJP’s Hindutva grew, India’s pleasure-seeking middle classes looked away.

The AIMIM chief also ruled out the possibility of any tie-up with the Congress in Telangana and Maharashtra —  the states where it has a sizeable following — maintaining that he still holds Sonia Gandhi “in utmost respect” but his political journey is “different” now.

He accused the BJP of trying to further its political agenda through the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

“Why don’t they (the BJP) accept one lakh Indians living as illegal citizens in Britain? Take them back. In the coming parliamentary elections, when people will ask about Rs 15 lakh (the amount of black money Modi promised to deposit in everyone’s bank account), they (the BJP) will say Rs 40 lakh. That’s what they are up to.”

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