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Asifa Khan, a school teacher from Bharuch, is the new face of the "Muslim minority" within the BJP in Gujarat.
Once considered a close ally of Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel, Asifa has now been handed over the responsibility to reach out to the minorities in Bharuch on behalf of the BJP.
"Joining BJP is not a sudden decision. I observed the working style of the Narendra Modi government and found it a better option. The reason I left Congress was that I could not work for people and get their matters resolved at the state level. State Congress leaders are not competent and issues go directly to Delhi for being sorted out. Congress makes schemes and policies for the people of India but does not reach out to the common man. Even the party leaders sitting in Delhi do not bother," Asifa said on Saturday in her first public interaction after joining the BJP.
The 47-year-old who spent over a decade in the Congress, including as its state unit's spokesperson, was addressing a press conference in Surat organised by local BJP leaders.
Asifa started her career as school teacher in a convent school in Bharuch and later got a job with Bank of Baroda there after clearing bank recruitment exams. She later quit the job and joined a vernacular newspaper as a journalist. In 2008, she was appointed the party spokesperson.
"Nobody came to me with an offer to join BJP. I have seen the party and its working style under Narendra Modi and was attracted to it. I got calls from top Congress brass in Delhi but remained firm on my decision. Nobody can change it," said Asifa, who is married and is a mother of two, a daughter and a son.
Asked about allegations that the state government does not use the scholarships for minorities sent by the Centre, Asifa said, "Scholarship money should be sent for all students, not only Muslims. I support the state government's decision not to use money sent only for the minority community students. The Gujarat government has come out with many policies and schemes for the entire society that are not based on caste or creed."