Mumbai, February 16: The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM chief) Asaduddin Owaisi and Member of Parliament from Hyderabad, has started his party’s campaign for upcoming civic polls in Maharashtra. On Tuesday, Asaduddin Owaisi conducted a massive rally in Nagpur which is also a headquarter of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In an exclusive interview with The Hindu, when the AIMIM leader was asked ‘people call him communal’ to which he replied, that being called communal has become a badge of honour for him.Also Read - 'Won't Let Yogi Return As CM in 2022', Vows Owaisi; UP Chief Minister Says Challenge Accepted

“In last few years I have become used to these things (being called communal) now and it has become a badge of honour for me. The RSS wants to destroy the basic ethos of this country and wanted to make India a theological country,” Owaisi was quoted by The Hindu. Owaisi said that his party and his leadership is meant for diversity and pluralism of India. Owaisi further added that unlike RSS he and his party do not want India to become a theological country. Also Read - UP Elections 2022: AIMIM to Contest on 100 Seats, Alliance Only With OP Rajbhar's Party, Says Owaisi

The political battle in Maharashtra has intensified, where the elections for 25 zilla panchayat and 10 Municipal Corporation including the BMC will be conducted next week. In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena-BJP split and non-formation of an alliance between Congress and NCP has turned the election much more interesting and due to this four-way political tussle, the AIMIM is expected to start its innings the state. The AIMIM has also fielded its 56 candidates in Mumbai for upcoming BMC polls, and the party claims to win at least 35-40 seats. Also Read - BSP to Fight UP, Uttarakhand Assembly Polls Alone, Says Mayawati as Reports of Tie-up With AIMIM Emerge

Assaduddin Owaisi said that in Maharashtra the candidates projected by the AIMIM are good and working very hard. He further hopes that the people of Maharashtra will vote for them and they will succeed in the upcoming elections. Also Read – BMC Elections 2017: Akbaruddin Owaisi drawing larger crowds in poll-bound Mumbai than Devendra Fadnavis or Uddhav Thackeray

In Pune, and Nagpur, the party has given tickets to a limited number of candidates, most of them belong to minority-dominated areas. Owaisi believes that this political journey in Maharashtra has just started and will continue and become stronger over the years. He said that the party will field candidates for the next assembly elections in Nagpur as well as Pune.

The AIMIM chief also criticised Shiv Sena and said, “Every election, the Shiv Sena has been calling Modi ‘Afzal Khan’ and after elections, he becomes ‘Dulhe Bhai’.”