New Delhi: A day after creating a controversy over her statement that Muslims should become “communal for their own good", Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Shazia Ilmi sought to defend herself, saying the remarks made had been picked up from a casual conversation and her tone and tenor was ironic.

“This comment has been picked up from a casual conversation and in an informal setting. It is quite clear from the tone and tenor of the comment that I am using the term secular and communal in an ironic manner", she told reporters. “Point is to simply say that the Muslim community has been allowed itself to be used far too long by the so called secular parties. It would be better for the community to turn to their real life material interest like education and employment," she said. Ilmi said that her statement was being distorted and misconstrued. “It is to be noted that I am making a plea to vote for a candidate who is not a Muslim and in the name of a leader who is not a Muslim. I am shocked to see that a statement like this can be so distorted and miscontrued as communal and inciting hatred.

“My party and I have always stood against any form of communalism and I shall continue to do so," she said.

Ilmi found herself at the centre of a controversy on Tuesday over her remarks that Muslims should become “communal" for their own good when they vote this time and not be “too secular".

“Don’t be much secular. Muslims are too secular and they should become communal. They are not communal and do not vote for themselves. Arvind Kejriwal is ours. Muslims have remained secular for long... have voted for the Congress and helped them win. Don’t be so secular and look at your house (community) this time.

“Other parties have their votebank intact and Muslim votes split. This is a controversial statement, but we should look at our own interest," Ilmi had said in a video that surfaced on Tuesday.

The party, however, has distanced itself from the remarks made by her. “All our representatives should be careful in their choice of words so that there is no scope for misinterpretation," the AAP said in a message posted on its Twitter handle.