Slamming BJP minister Eknath Khadse for drawing a comparison between right-wing Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha and AIMIM, party chief Asaduddin Owaisi alleged the BJP was attempting to protect both the Sanstha and its activist, who is currently a suspect in the murder case
“Mark my words. The BJP is politicising this issue in order to put pressure on the police to go slow on the suspect in Comrade Govind Pansare’s murder,” said Asaduddin Owaisi, chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), just a day after senior BJP leader and Maharashtra revenue minister, Eknath Khadse compared the right-wing outfit Sanatan Sanstha to the AIMIM.
Asaduddin Owaisi, chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM). File pic
Following the arrest of Samir Gaikwad, a Sanatan Sanstha activist, in connection with the Govind Pansare murder case, there have been calls for a ban on the organisation. On Monday, however, Khadse ruled this out, and said that if the Sanstha is banned, then AIMIM should be outlawed as well.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said it was absurd to draw parallels where there weren’t any, between Sanatan Sanstha and AIMIM. File pic
“We cannot ban any organisation until we have concrete evidence that the organisation is involved in illegal activities. Unless we have concrete evidence, the ban will not stand in court. AIMIM is also known for making provocative statements. Likewise, other parties and organisations also indulge in explosive statements. Do we keep banning all of them? Even if we do, will it stand in court?” Khadse had said.
Speaking to mid-day from Hyderabad, Owaisi reacted strongly to Khadse’s comments and said it was absurd to draw a comparison between the Sanstha and AIMIM, and that it was an effort to deflect attention from the Pansare murder case (see box). Under pressure, the police might not be able to file the chargesheet against Gaikwad within 180 days, alleged Owaisi.
“This means the accused will go scot-free and the BJP will have its way,” he added. Referring to the Prime Minister’s recent speeches about how there must not be demarcations within terror, Owaisi said Khadse was contradicting his own PM’s views. “On one hand, Modi says the theory of good Taliban and bad Taliban will not work, and on the other hand, his junior party colleague talks this complete nonsense,” he said.
“The PM has said that terror has no religion. Terror is terror. Then the BJP also should not protect Sanatan Sanstha,” the AIMIM chief elaborated.
According to Owaisi, there are no parallels between Sanatan Sanstha and his party. “We’re a political party that believes in the Indian Constitution. We fight for justice for Dalits and minorities. We have been contesting polls since 1960. Are we a terror group?” he asked.
He said Sanatan Santha’s ideology was in total contrast to his party’s philosophy. “Sanatan feels that the Indian electoral system is detrimental to the cause of the Hindu rashtra. It wants our Constitution to be amended in favour of Hindus. It doesn’t want reservations and believes in the ancient caste system of varnas.”
Responding to Khadse’s allegations that AIMIM made provocative speeches, Owaisi told mid-day, “Forget a ban on us, the BJP couldn’t even prove that we, in AIMIM, make provocative speeches. This is despite the fact that the BJP is the ruling party in New Delhi and Mumbai.”
Calling it an effort by the BJP to distract people from the real issues, the leader said, “People elected the BJP because it promised good governance. But where is the good governance? They banned beef.
Then a controversy about the meat ban happened. They also tried to make yoga compulsory. Ideally, the party should focus more on helping distressed farmers, improving governance and making people happy. But their agenda is totally different.”
Khadse’s comparison of Sanatan Sanstha with the AIMIM drew sharp criticism from the opposition. Vocal in his support of the Hyderabad-based AIMIM, NCP Mumbai president Sachin Ahir said, “Today he (Khadse) is comparing AIMIM with this radical outfit, tomorrow it can be any other secular party.
You cannot compare terrorists with a political organisation. Owaisi and his brother have never caused violence with their speeches. The BJP is once again using a religious outfit for cheap political gains.”
Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam called for a statewide ban on the Sanstha, but also dubbed AIMIM as a communal party.
“The state government should immediately ban Sanatan. While Sanatan does not believe in democracy but in violence, AIMIM, instead of being banned, should be forced to give up its politics of communalism. AIMIM is not killing people, but this fanatical organisation (Sanatan) is killing people,” he said.
BJP backs Khadse
“What Khadseji meant by comparison is that the AIMIM works for Muslims while Sanatan Sanstha works for Hindus. There have been demands to ban the AIMIM as well. But just because some organisation demands a ban on a political outfit, the government cannot enforce a ban,” said BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari. — Inputs by Agencies
In February, veteran CPI leader and anti-toll tax crusader Govind Pansare was shot by motorcycle-borne assailants during a morning walk near his house in Kolhapur. The 82-year-old and his wife, Uma, were barely 50 feet from their home when the gunmen fired five times at him. 72-year-old Uma was also seriously injured, and this paper recently reported that she needed an angioplasty procedure as her condition had deteriorated.
Suspect in judicial custody
Samir Gaikwad, a Sanatan Sanstha activist and suspect in the Pansare murder, was on Monday remanded to judicial custody by a Kolhapur court. He had been arrested in Sangli on September 16 by the Special Investigation Team of Maharashtra Police. The police requested for more time to interrogate Gaikwad, but the court refused to extend the duration of police custody.