Hyderabad : Majlis-e-Ittehaddul Muslimeen (MIM), a constituent of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Wednesday said it would not vote for the coalition's presidential candidate Pratibha Patil if she failed to withdraw her remarks on veil.
Taking strong exception to Patil's remarks last week calling for an end to the purdah or veil system, MIM demanded that she immediately withdraw her remarks.
"We are surprised and astonished by her statement. She should immediately clarify and withdraw her statement and if she fails to do that it will be difficult for MIM to support her in the presidential elections," said Asaduddin Owaisi, MIM MP from Hyderabad.
Apart from the one Lok Sabha member, the MIM has five members in the 294-member Andhra Pradesh assembly. The Muslim-majority old city of Hyderabad is the party's stronghold.
Owaisi told a news conference that he spoke to Ahmed Patel, political secretary of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and said Patil's statement was unacceptable and she should withdraw it immediately.
Abdur Rahim Qureshi, secretary, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, termed Patil's statement as unfortunate and said the practice of purdah existed in India even before the advent of Muslim rulers – disputing Rajasthan Governor Patil's reported statement that Hindu women started the veil practice only after the Mughals came to rule India.
"The purdah system was there among Hindu women. They used to practise it before elders as a sign of respect to them and also whenever they had to step out of homes," he said.
The Muslim leader pointed out that the ghoonghat made by Hindu women especially among high castes in Rajasthan was also a form of purdah.