Shazia Ilmi on BJP stage, fuels speculation of joining party

Written by Express news service | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 10 2014, 14:44pm hrs
Five months after quitting the party she helped create, former AAP leader Shazia Ilmi has agreed to be a part of the Delhi BJPs cleanliness drive. While Ilmi refuted rumours of this signalling intent to join the BJP, she praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for launching a nationwide cleanliness drive.

I was asked to be one of the nine nominees for the cleanliness campaign. When I asked them about what will be required of me and who were the other nominees, I was told that the likes of Uma Sharma and Padmashree K K Aggarwal and DU Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh will be a part of the event. Without any hesitation, I agreed, Ilmi told Newsline.

Ilmi claimed that she had earlier been associated with the cause and when she was given an opportunity to be part of a cleanliness campaign, there was no reason for her to turn it down.

I believe in the issue. One of my closest friends, Anita Bhargava, has been working in this area for a long time. In the past, too, I have taken part in events on cleanliness, she said. Responding to a query on speculation about her joining the BJP, Ilmi said, If I join the BJP or the Congress, I will make a huge announcement. I will not do it in a sly manner. Ilmi further said, It is unfortunate that people are talking about whether I am joining the BJP or Congress or the AAP. No attention is being paid to the issue of cleanliness. No wonder we have brought such a situation upon ourselves. I am extremely disappointed at the reaction that my participation has generated. She said the Anna Hazare campaign against corruption had evoked a similar reaction. When I joined the Anna Hazare campaign, everybody alleged that we were BJPs B team. I did not care about what people thought then. I have an independent voice and I am very happy that Narendra Modi has taken this initiative. I was very glad when he spoke about Gandhi, I am a Gandhian. Why should I be critical of a good initiative, she said. The BJP, too, was quick to echo Ilmis opinion. Speaking at the launch function on Thursday, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, This campaign should not be connected to politics. I hope all political parties will also join this programme because this is not a programme of one political party. Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay introduced the nine nominees as Olympian Sushil Kumar, DU VC Dinesh Singh, Padmashree Dr K K Aggarwal, Shazia Illmi, Kathak artist and Padma Bhushan Uma Sharma, DCM Group MD Vinay Bharat Ram, India Islamic Centres president Sirazuddin Qureshi, CAITs general secretary Praveen Khandelwal and DUSUs president Mohit Nagar. Naidu asked participants to ensure that Swachh Bharat Abhiyan doesnt become just a government programme and that it be made a peoples movement.