Asaduddin Owaisi, 52-year-old chief of the AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen), has a message for the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the BJP, seeking a consensus on the slurs cast on him. The target of across-the-board attacks since his decision to contest next year's assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Mr Owaisi took recourse to humour today.
"You might have heard Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath saying that Owaisi is Samajwadi Party's agent. SP says that Owaisi is the BJP's agent. Congress says that I am so and so's B team. I would like to tell all of them to sit down and decide that whose agent I am," Mr Owaisi told reporters in Jaunpur.
It was the Congress which termed Mr Owaisi a "vote cutter" after the assembly elections in Bihar last year. Mr Owaisi's party fielded 20 candidates in the crucial Seemanchal region, which has a sizeable Muslim population. The party won five seats, splitting the Muslim votes and crushing Congress hopes of sweeping the region.
"BJP's tact of using (Asaduddin) Owaisi sahab's party in the Bihar elections has succeeded to an extent. All secular parties should be alert about vote-cutter Owaisi sahab," senior party leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Congress's Randeep Surjewala outright called him a "BJP agent".
Two days ago, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath referred to Mr Owaisi as an agent of the Samajwadi Party. "Everyone knows that Mr Owaisi is inciting feelings as an agent of the SP. But now UP is not known for riots but as a riot-free state," he said.
Contending that there used to be riots in the state every "third or fourth day", he said, "I would like to warn the person who is once again is trying to incite feelings in the name of CAA (citizenship Amendment Act)."
"I am asking followers of 'chacha jaan' (uncle) and 'abba jaan' to listen carefully that if attempts are made to vitiate the atmosphere of the state by inciting feelings, the state government will deal with it strictly," the Chief Minister said.