New Delhi, Nov 20: Janata Dal (U) leader and five- time MLA Shoaib Iqbal today joined Congress vowing to fight "communal forces" and prevent the "division of Muslim votes" ahead of forthcoming Delhi Assembly elections.
Iqbal, who was an MLA from Matia Mahal, joined the party along with his son Mohammad Iqbal and nephew Khurram Iqbal, both councillors, in presence of AICC General Secretary in-charge for Delhi Shakeel Ahmed and DPCC Chief Arvinder Singh Lovely. Congress leaders said that Iqbal's coming will strengthen the party and downplayed a host of questions regarding the Matia Mahal MLA frequently changing parties.
Ahmed said that the decision to induct the MLA into Congress was taken after a meeting with Rahul Gandhi and that his coming will strengthen not only Delhi Congress but also send a message in the country that "such well-known" leaders are joining Congress and expressing faith in its philosophy. Faced with questions about Iqbal's party hopping in the past, DPCC chief Arvinder Singh Lovely said, "The biggest reason for inducting Iqbal in Congress was that irrespective of whichever party he joined or left, he never compromised with any communal party either inside Delhi Assembly or outside it."
Iqbal said that it was not his fault that he changed parties as they kept splitting. Iqbal, who had contested his first Assembly election in 1993 on a Janata Dal ticket, successfully fought the Assembly elections in 2013 on JD(U) ticket. In between, he was also in Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan. He said that he joined Congress as he felt that the social atmsophere in Delhi was being vitiated by BJP while "some other parties want to divide the votes of Muslims".
He said that he was shocked to note the "silence" of Aam Aadmi Party during the communal violence in Trilokpuri. In the December 2013 Delhi Assembly elections, AAP had won 28 seats in the 70-member House and formed the government with the outside support of Congress that had emerged with eight seats. Iqbal and an Independent had also extended support to AAP. To questions about Iqbal's earlier reported plan to join Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), Lovely alleged that both AAP and MIM were "brothers and sisters" and were trying to benefit RSS and BJP. Iqbal had yesterday said that by joining Congress, he would help present a joint secular front.