Arvind Kejriwal-headed Aam Aadmi Party later distanced itself from the controversial remarks, saying it does not endorse her views. However, Ilmi stood by her comments, which, she said is ‘play of words’. (JPN/Agencies)
The Aam Aadmi Party’s response came hours after a video of Ilmi's comments went viral on social media and the footage shown on TV channels.
In the video, which surfaced on Tuesday, Ilmi said that Muslims' votes split as they were ‘too secular’ and they ‘should become communal’ and vote keeping in mind ‘our own interest’.
"Don't be much secular. Muslims are too secular and they should become communal. They are not communal and do not vote for themselves. Arvind Kejriwal is ours. Muslims have remained secular for long...have voted for the Congress and helped them win. Don't be so secular and look at your house this time,” Ilmi, the AAP candidate from Ghaziabad, said.
"Other parties have their votebank intact and Muslim votes split. This is a controversial statement but we should look at our own interest,” she added in the video in which she is having a conversation with members of the Muslim community.
The Aam Aadmi Party said it does not believe in this kind of politics nor does it endorse it.
"All our representatives should be careful in their choice of words so that there is no scope for misinterpretation," the AAP said in a message posted on its twitter handle.
"I've seen Shazia's clip. She should have not said it. AAP does not believe in communal politics. Our politics is to unite all Indians," party leader Manish Sisodia tweeted.
With her remarks triggering a controversy, Ilmi said she had not made any remark that incited hatred.
"I stand by it. I said, we should think of our community first. When others are not secular then why should we be secular? It is play of words," she told TV channels.
"I said it half sarcastically. Somebody was saying Muslims are very communal. I am saying Muslims are not communal, in fact they are very secular. They need to be communal. This does not mean to incite hatred. They must think of themselves and must not be political slaves,” she added.
Ilmi further said, “What have the political parties done for Muslims in terms of political empowerment and representation in either government or private jobs, education... in terms of economic and political opportunities.”
“I was essentially saying when you cast a vote you want to better your lot. Think of yourself...you cannot be scared of Modi and RSS all the time," she added.
Arvind Kejriwal-headed Aam Aadmi Party later distanced itself from the controversial remarks, saying it does not endorse her views. However, Ilmi stood by her comments, which, she said is ‘play of words’.