Hyderabad, Aug 18 (IANS) Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) plans to expand its base outside Andhra Pradesh by contesting elections in other states, announced its leader Akbaruddin Owaisi.
The 43-year-old Owaisi, a member of the Andhra Pradesh state assembly, told a massive public meeting here Saturday night that the MIM would field candidates in the next assembly elections in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and other states.
The party, which has seven members in the Andhra Pradesh assembly and one member of parliament, has already bagged a few seats in local body elections in Karnataka and Maharashtra, he pointed out.
This was Akbaruddin's first public appearance since his release from jail in February this year in a hate speech case. The legislator had spent 40 days in Adilabad jail.
Thousands of people, especially youth, thronged Khilwat Grounds in the old city of Hyderabad to hear the young leader, who heads the party in the assembly.
The public meeting was organised to mark the fifth death anniversary of former MIM chief Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi.
Akbaruddin said his rivals conspired to finish him, but he only emerged stronger and even more popular. Referring to phone calls he received from people in various states in the last few months expressing support, the MIM leader said he would visit various states including Gujarat to bring together minorities and oppressed sections of society.
"The MIM is fighting for Muslims, other minorities and those sections of society which are deprived of their constitutional rights," he said.
MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi criticized the Congress government for imposing a ban on his visit to Maharashtra, and said he would now send his younger brother, Akbaruddin, to visit various states. "When Modi can visit Hyderabad, why can't we go to other states," asked the MP from Hyderabad.
"No, we can't. We will not. Say no to Modi, no to BJP," he asked the audience to repeat after him.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, at a public meeting here Aug 11, had chanted "Yes, we can. Yes, we will".
The MP said MIM would never accept union territory status to Hyderabad. He said Hyderabad, as a permanent joint capital of Telangana and Seemandhra, would also not be acceptable. He advised Congress leaders from Seemandhra to accept the division as the decision was taken by their party president.