Senior Congress leader Rahman Khan on Saturday said Muslims are not a minority in the country, and called upon them to strive towards nation-building.
"There are about 20 to 22 crore Muslims in the country; according to me, they are not minorities. How can 22 crore be a minority? We have been giving such a colour," Mr Khan said.
Speaking to reporters, he said he has even written a book 'Indian Muslims: The Way Forward' and asked the community to strive to build the nation.
"We have to contribute to society. We should be the givers and give to society, become good citizens. Instead of asking from the government, we should give to society," he said.
Noting that as per the Article 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution, if any section or community is backward and needs support, the Constitution provides the government a power to take affirmative action, the former Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha said. "So, no party on coming to power is doing any favour to any community," he said.
"The Constitution protects all the citizens. The Constitution is our protector, not any political party..." he said. He said anyone can join any party and that, according to him, no party can claim Muslims are with it.
He was responding to questions on the political slugfest between the Congress and JD(S) leaders over Muslim support ahead of the October 30 Hangal and Sindgi bypolls.
Responding to a question, Mr Khan said minorities are also citizens of the country, and claims by political leaders that the community is being used by someone for the sake of votes is an insult. "Don't minorities have knowledge of who to vote for and whom not to. Are minorities usable?" he asked.
Stating that minorities have the right to seek for their rights in accordance with what is provided to them under the Constitution, he said, "They don't need any party to ask for their rights, the Constitution is enough."
The former Union Minister further said the Congress is a secular party, and for 70 years as it has stood for protecting secularism, the Muslims support it.
"It is not that Muslims support only Congress. If tomorrow Congress doesn't stand for secular principles, they will have nothing to give to the nation...if tomorrow BJP adopts secularism, they may support them as well," he added.