Asaduddin Owaisi, the leader of AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) has joined issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his comment that the minorities have been "deceived" and "made to live in fear". Mr Owaisi, who has the support of a huge number of Muslims in Telangana, pointed to the violence carried out by right-wing fringe groups over the last five years, and said the Muslims, even today, has very little representation in parliament.
"If PM agrees that minorities live in fear, he should know people who killed Akhlaq were sitting in front bench of electoral public meeting," Mr Owaisi said, referring to Mohammad Akhlaq, a 72-year-old who had been killed in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh in 2015 on suspicious cattle slaughter. Fourteen people were arrested in the case and by 2017, 12 of them were released on bail.
"If PM feels Muslims live in fear, will he stop gangs, who in the name of cow killing, are beating Muslims, taking our videos and demeaning us?" Mr Owaisi was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
On Saturday, while addressing his party's chief ministers and parliamentarians at the Central Hall of parliament, PM Modi accused the opposition of deceiving the poor and minorities and ensuring that they live in far for the sake of votebank politics.
"They (minorities) cannot be handed over to them (opposition), who benefit because we keep quiet," he said. The poor, he said, were deceived all these years but his government managed end it. Similarly, he asked his lawmakers to end the deception around minorities.
"I appeal to all that we have to break that deceit on minorities. We have to gain their trust. We have to move shoulder to shoulder without discriminating on the basis of caste, sect and religion... ''Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas ab Sabka Vishwas (Everyone''s support, everyone''s development and now everyone''s trust). This is our mantra," he had said.
Mr Owaisi questioned the Prime Minister about his party's efforts to ensure proper representation of the minorities in parliament.
"If Muslims seriously live in fear, can the PM tell us -- out of the 300-odd MPs, how many Muslim MPs he has in own party, who got elected from Lok Sabha?" he said. "This is the hypocrisy and contradiction, which the Prime Minister and his party have been practicing for the last 5 years".
Mr Owaisi retained his Hyderabad seat in the recently concluded general elections. Amid an abysmal performance from the opposition, the BJP had won 303 seats - way above the 282 seat in won in 2014.