In an attempt to portray its “secular” image, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded a Muslim-Jat candidate from communally sensitive Muzaffarnagar, which was rocked by riots last year.
Echoing party chief Arvind Kejriwal’s recent statement that communalism is a greater threat than corruption, AAP candidate Mohammad Yamin, 67, said that his “aim is to root out communal feelings and corruption, in that order.”
Muslim-Jats are Jats who reportedly converted to Islam several centuries ago.
Yamin, who co-founded Peace Party, was among 39 persons from Uttar Pradesh whose names were announced on Monday, taking the total list of AAP candidates in state to 46.
Along with Yashpal Malik of All India Jat Aarakhshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS), Yamin fought for reservation for Jats. “It was a four-year-long fight and the (recent) announcement (of reservation for Jats) is a result of our hard work,” he told The Indian Express.
Yamin said that Peace Party was founded for promoting communal harmony but it wavered in its aim and “now AAP is fighting along similar lines though with a wider scope”.
Of AAP’s 46 candidates, nearly one-third, or 11, are Muslims. Shia cleric and AIMPLB member Maulana Kalbe Rushaid has been fielded from Amroha while former MP and senior AAP leader Illyas Azmi will contest from Lakhimpur Kheri. Badre Alam, who had contested from Janata Dal, Lok Dal and other parties in earlier Assembly elections, has been fielded from Domariyaganj. Cartoonist and activist Aseem Trivedi missed out on a ticket as Dr Mahmood Husain Rehmani has been fielded from Kanpur. Also, 2002 Gujarat riot victim Mashooq Usmani is AAP candidate from Gonda.
Shefali Misra, a former “international civil servant” at UN, human rights activist and writer, has been fielded from Sitapur. Shefali, who has studied at Delhi University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and London School of Economics, said, “There are many issues in Sitapur, with poor delivery of services being the major one.”
Additional District and Sessions Judge Arun Kumar Tripathi, who took voluntary retirement and joined AAP recently, has been fielded from Deoria. Samajwadi Party rebel Dr Kailash Prakash Yadav has been fielded from Jaunpur, while Prof Radhey Mohan Mishra, former V-C of Gorakhpur University, has been fielded from Gorakhpur.
Others include Atul Kumar Singh, an IIT and IIM alumnus, who has been fielded from Hamirpur, while Kargil war veteran and former armyman Ashok Kumar Shukla, has been fielded from Pratapgarh. Various others named in the list have been part of the Anna Movement.