New Delhi: In a video posted on YouTube, Shazia Ilmi, a top leader of Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is seen urging Muslim leaders, "I'm saying Muslims are very secular. Muslims need to be communal. A Muslim isn't communal - doesn't vote for his own. Arvind Kejriwal is one of you. You are too ...don't be this secular. Look after your own homes (interests)." NDTV cannot verify the authenticity of the video.
On its Twitter account, Ms Ilmi's party clarified, "AAP does not believe in this kind of politics nor does it endorse it."
Ms Ilmi told NDTV that her comments were "a play of words." She said, "I was making fun of this word 'secularism' which is used all the time. I said Muslims never think of themselves, they have become political slaves to a party."
The BJP now plans to complain against Ms Ilmi's remarks to the Election Commission. "Shazia Ilmi must give an explanation," said BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
In recent weeks, the national election has seen politicians using religion to court voters and making remarks designed to polarize votes, with the powerful Election Commission reacting swiftly. Azam Khan, a minister in Uttar Pradesh, has been banned from campaigning after a hate speech. Similar action was taken against the BJP's Amit Shah; after an assurance that he would not make hate comments, the ban on him was lifted last week.
Another BJP leader, Giriraj Singh, has been told today he cannot campaign in Bihar and Jharkhand for stating recently that critics of Narendra Modi will have to go to Pakistan after the BJP is elected. (Read more...)
This morning, Mr Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, condemned anti-Muslim remarks made by hardliner colleagues. "Petty statements by those claiming to be BJP's well wishers are deviating the campaign from the issues of development & good governance," Mr Modi tweeted. (No irresponsible remarks please, says Modi after Togadia controversy)
In a video that surfaced yesterday, Pravin Togadia, a top leader of of the right-wing Hindu Vishwa Parishad or VHP, was seen offering advice on how to prevent Muslims from buying property in Hindus-dominated areas of Gujarat.