This (Congress) is the anti-thesis of democracy


When you don’t impact political transformation nothing will happen

That I am a citizen of this country, I am a woman and an Indian

This (Congress) is the anti-thesis of democracy

We are taking on the might of the BJP

In this continuing freewheeling conversation, Shazia Ilmi as always spoke with candor about the election, war on corruption, gender issues, family and the challenges ahead. 

Shazia Ilmi Interview Shazia Ilmi   We Are Taking On The Might of The BJP

Excerpts from the interview with Shazia Ilmi :

So the last time we had an interview with IndiaOpines – You were fighting an uphill battle – goons were sent against you (in your constituency) in the slums, character assassination, pamphlets , personal slurs – you had to face quite a bit  !

It was very ugly

Your loss by a little over 300 votes was just a technical loss – how do you feel about – do you feel vindicated ?

I feel that somewhere its been a defeat of vote bank politics – that’s how I see it. This narrow margin which I consider really miniscule – I consider a defeat of vote bank politics that by and large people thought I was worthy enough as a citizen contesting from primarily a non-muslim constituency. I had an uphill task – as there was Barkha Singh – for 15 years she and her husband ruled the roost over there. There was Anil Sharma who is the deputy mayor of MCD and a councillor and Dhiraj Tokas from BSP whose wife is a councillor. So mine was quadrangular in a very tough constituency. We had government colonies, slums there and posh colonies – three big villages – gita(?), mohhamadpur, muchigaon(?). In light of that and a diverse cross section of people, I think I did very well. People took to the whole idea of civic/citizen identity.

Instead of some vote bank politics.

Yes, yes As far as that is concerned , I am proud not for myself, but what my party stood for and took the decision and that they considered me for this constituency knowing very well and that I represented a different kind of politics.  A different kind of politics. That I am a citizen of this country, I am a woman and an Indian.

Shazia Ilmi Interview 2 Shazia Ilmi   We Are Taking On The Might of The BJP

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Shazia Ilmi during Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace in Jaipur. (Photo: Ravi Shankar Vyas/IANS)

Perhaps its all for the good.  As sitting MLAs of the Aam Aadmi party wont be fighting Lok Sabha elections. It frees you potentially for Lok Sabha

I don’t know . Everyone seems to be looking for a Lok Sabha ticket – who will work for the organization? It seems everybody wants to jump in.

So I am not sure.

Not sure if you wish to talk about this or not. We are obviously on record. Any update on the family situation. Anything further from the Salman Khurshid camp.

It’s a fact – you can ask any journalist how close Aijaz is to Salman Khurshid – it’s a known thing . And that they used this – it hurt me – it shocked me. But you can only get hurt so much. My husband …, Rashid my younger brother was working with my husband for two years and Aijaz propped him up. And there ia a whole property dispute where I am not even a party.  I support one brother Irshad bhai who is the editor, printer, and publisher as per RNI. They are fighting him and I support him.

When his wife was thrown out from the Kanpur family house by my own mother and my brothers I supported my bhabhi – she lives with me. I got the three kids admission done and they live with me. “woh ghar mein hai”.  I supported this brother of mine – its my choice. If you see Irshad bhai – he is a self-effacing decent sort of fellow –  Who in spite of being from Doon school in Sherwood decided to go back to Kanpur and live there.

The news paper was dying after my father and he carried it – Now the paper is doing well. Urdu paper means political mileage. It means access. It means making money during elections.

So Aijaz Ilmi wants that. Whatever my moms traditional thing with my bhabhi might be – which  happens in families. I didn’t want to talk about it – it was stressing. But I never lost my cool.

Star news knows the whole story because I worked there for seven years. All the surgeries done for my mother  were done through my HR benefits – this proves the fact that I have been there. Mine is a very visible job being an anchor , being a panelist – Why would I take a flight every day being a married woman and fly to Lucknow to my mother’s house and beat up Aijaz and my mother – its so absurd – think about it . Aijaz is six feet tall and look at my height, please – I am vertically challenged – does it make sense.

Mein kyun karungi aise. Aap ko ab yad aya election ke vakt, logo ko maza a raha hai and media will also play it up. It’s so sad

He claims to be an editor. I send this mail out to Shekhar Gupta. As per RNI Irshad bhai is printer and publisher. Aijaz says he is chairman of the editorial board. “Siyasat mein to black board bhi nahi hain” – Siyasat (the newspaper) does not have a black board – forget an editorial board. This irritated him. Aijaz bhai is seven eight years older, Irshad is eleven years older. When I what to do something – why not let me.

After the Salman Khursheed disability situation –  Lines were drawn – its very sad. Why would they want o to talk about a womans married life – it is not easy. This is what we deal with.

Agar mein Jagran kar rahi hu, to Musalman naraz hai.
Agar mein Masjid ja rahi hu to Hindu naraz hai.
Agar mere shohar mere sath nahin hein to vo issue hai.
Agar sindoor nahi hai to voh issue hai.

Let me be. I just want to talk about issues. People are saying Apke ghar mein kya ho raha hein? Meine kaha apke ghar me jo ho raha hai – hum use sudharne aye hai – ki apke ghar mein bijli sasti ho jaye. Ham apke liye aye hai. Hame uske bare main bat karna hain ? Ya hamare shaadi ke pehle ghar mein kya hoto tha ? (I am here to help solve your problems at home including cheaper electricity – what is the relevance of my personal life)

Can you believe – Credible media was used – it was so sad.

Louise Khurshid has a book release just a few days ago at the Jaipur literature festival. It was a politically inclined book , of course. One of the big inferences in that book is that the Aam Aadmi party is like V.P Singh’s party/movement. I guess what she is trying to say is that it will not last long and that Arvind Kejriwal is like V.P Singh. What are your views on that.   

V.P. Singh movement was against Bofors .

Gali gali mein shor hain – Rajiv Gandhi chor hai became the nara of the day. It was against corruption.

But we don’t speak of corruption in a vacuum, we talk about Jan Lok pal bill , we talk about funds, we talk about poll funding,  inner party democracy. We speak of transparency. These are very real and solid issues – we actually speak with facts – its not coming from nowhere.

Speaking of family – there is this whole concept of Gandhi family loyalist. Todays newspaper mentions that the Rajasthan opposition party (now the Congress) leader is a Gandhi family loyalist. What do you think of this whole phrase ‘Gandhi family loyalist’ – the entire Congress seems to be driven by this ..

This is the anti-thesis of democracy – the grand old party of India , the largest democracy, is being held to ransom by one family – its sad. It’s a sad state of affairs. What on earth are we taking about. It is insane. What more can one say . That Salman Khurshid – he says I am ready to die for Sonia madam.

What kind of … when Rahul is saying – he is lauding and clapping. He (Salman) is jumping up and down, bobbing his head up and down – calling us guttersnipes. What you say to those people who start stealing from the disabled and children and at the last minute start distributing.

Lord Meghnad Desai says (in a yet to be published interview to IndiaOpines) that in the future there will be two major parties, the Aam Aadmi party and the BJP – possibly even in this election. Though, he feels that in the upcoming election the Aam Aadmi and the BJP may end up cutting each others votes and as a result the congress may still come back to power with the help of the BSP, Nitish and some of the other local players.  

This can easily be debunked. This was exactly what they said in the Delhi elections. BJP kept saying we were congress agents. BJP kept saying that they will eat into our votes. What happened . it did not happen like that. BJP would have gotten 62 seats – but they were reduced to 30 thanks to AAP, but Congress got wiped out

There is Kumar Vishwas fighting Rahul Gandhi at Amethi, but there isn’t an equally strong candidate against Narendra Modi – none like the stature of Kumar Vishwas. Is there an omission against Modi ?

The very fact that we are taking on the might of the BJP and the proof of it is the way is the way BJP is attacking us . Every debate that happens now, every mention of Congress in public discourse where BJP is present  – they single us out and take on Aam Aadmi Party and not the Congress

It seems BJP has written congress off and we are the new enemy. We are the only ones standing up to Modi. Forget one candidate we are taking on the might of the BJP. We are the only ones.

That message has gone – it has percolated down – not only among muslims , but a lot of secular Indians. Who have a problem – Who for the lack of choice were going for Modi. Who are beginning to see another alternative. Which is Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi party . There are enough takers for this . Delhi showed that.

In Delhi the minority votes (for AAP) was a bit lacking though !

In Delhi the minority or muslims did not believe the Aam Aadmi party would come to power. The only way to keep BJP out of power was to go back to Congress. This is what they did. We kept Congress at bay , and eventually we will keep BJP at bay. In their minds we are the front-runners for a secular government. Every day I meet people, make it a point to go to party office, I am getting this (impression), my belief is getting affirmed in this – I am not talking about just muslims, but well-educated regular folks and also Muslims – well educated , some not so well – all kinds who are recognizing us as an alternative, who are saying let’s try these people out

Coming to power was an important step  – it was a turning point – it showed the availability of a new alternative  party

Lets go over to gender

That’s my favourite subject

You fought from the constituency where Damini happened.  Where Ravi Das camp is situated and the chair person of women’s commission Barkha Singh was your opponent.  Today we have Arvind Kejriwal fighting for women’s safety – an incident happened in Khirki extension. The Ugandan issue. The Danish woman gang rape. But the media seems to be excessively focused on the anarchy part of the struggle and not the intent of the struggle or what it is for.  Here we have someone fighting for accountability, for heads to roll – for improvement

Exactly, When the last gang rape happened , the Danish woman, every body got around and trained their guns on us and said you are not doing anything about it – we want to do something about it and to do something about it – We need to have Delhi police under us. Which is what we are agitating for – but people have a problem with that.

Last question on the Delhi Police. In the Damini case it was reported that the private bus driver was on the hafta list and therefore plying freely on the streets ( this has not been substantiated, but written about in press ) How do you fight this organized crime. This is not just happening for the last two/three years – its happening for longer


This has become a system. What will it take ?

We are also talking about police reforms for the longest period. We are talking about the Delhi police establishment. Police reforms,we are very good at talking and all this legislation is pending. As long as there is conflict of interest between the political class and passing of these laws, nothing will change – which is why it is so important for people who think radically different and who want to shape up the system. We need people to be there in huge numbers so that these laws can be enacted.

Else these will remain pending. It’s very convenient to keep them pending. It goes back to the same logic – when you don’t impact political transformation nothing will happen


Interview by Indrajit Chatterjee

Also See:
‘Salman Khurshid is behind this attempt to malign me,’ Shazia Ilmi

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