Owaisi Politics In Secular India: A Replica Of Pre-Independence Islamism? – Analysis


By R.Upadhyay*

Asaduddin Owaisi, president of All India Majlish-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) who has of late gained national audience is now trying his luck in BIHAR Assembly election in the four districts where Muslims are the deciding factor.

His religion based representative politics for Muslims in secular India and controversial statement that “everyone is born a Muslim and then he is converted to other religions” might have satisfied the Islamists lobby within Indian Muslim society but such politics is apparently a repeat of the separatist politics of Jinnah. Instead of advancing the cause of people’s interest, his politics exclusively for the Muslims reminds the people of Pakistan Movement.

Suffering from the delusion of the DNA of his party rooted to the pre-Independence Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen which believed that “the ruler throne (Nizam) is the symbol of the political and cultural rights of the Muslim community …. and this status must continue for ever”( party politics in Andhra Pradesh by Vadakattu Hanumantha Rao, 1983, page 163) and also in the turbulent and communal politics of the country in general and in the former Princely State of Hyderabad in particular, Owaisi is still carrying the baggage of his parent organisation which “proclaimed Muslims as the monarchs of Deccan with Nizam as only the symbolic expression of their political sovereignty” (State Government and Politics – Andhra Pradesh by Reddy and Sharma, 1979, page 392). He is therefore; now found trying to replicate the pre-Independence politics of Muslimism the concept for the Muslims, of the Muslims and by the Muslims in other states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh by arousing the sense of communal discrimination and anxiety among the youths of the community with provocative politics.

The AIMIM was not having any presence beyond Hyderabad but after winning two seats in last Maharashtra election, impressive success in Aurangabad Municipal election and causing defeat of the Congress in recently concluded Bengaluru Municipal election, Owaisi is found to make some dent in north Indian states particularly in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Encouraged with his Kishanganj rally in Bihar he is presumably ambitious to expand his party to all India level.

With just only one seat in parliament, two Assembly seats in Maharashtra Assembly and a few seats in Telangana, he is trying to consolidate the Muslim votes in favour of AIMIM as done by Jinnah in consolidating the Muslims behind All India Muslim League and succeeded in creation of a separate Muslim country. Owaisi however does not bother that his communal endeavour and politics exclusively for the Muslims in secular India will be detrimental to national interest in general and to the Muslims in particular. His success in splitting the Muslim votes in last Maharashtra Assembly Election and Municipal elections in Aurangabad as well as Bengaluru might have prompted him to re-play the similar game in ensuing Bihar Assembly Election and next year in UP and West Bengal but he does not realise that it will revive the Pre-Independence gap of communal mistrust between the two major religious communities.

Some Muslim youths may applaud “Owaisi Brothers are Musssalmanon ka Modi” (http://muslimmirror.com/eng/are-owaisi-brothers-leading-muslims-in-the-r…) but the AIMIM leader must understand that Indian Muslims are not his inherited property.

Owaisis have inherited the confrontational politics of MIM led by Kasim Rizvi with Government of India. For Rizvi the Princely State of Hyderabad was a political reality which he was not ready to sacrifice for the idea of India. Accordingly, he had recruited a large number of Razakars that had created a reign of terror against the non-Muslims. He had even threatened the Government of India during one of his talks with V.P.Menon, the then Secretary in the Ministry of States in Delhi saying “if government of India insisted on a plebiscite, the final arbiter could only be the sword”.(Integration of the Indian States by V.P. Menon, page 334). Similarly in one of his Jehadi speeches as published in press, he asserted: “The day is not far off when the waves of the Bay of Bengal will be washing the feet of our sovereign”. He further declared that “he would plant the Asaf Jahi flag on the Red Fort in Delhi”. (Ibid. Page 352). However, the sword of Rizvi failed to defend the merger of the Princely State of Hyderabad with India on September 17, 1948 after Police Action by Government of India. The MIM was proscribed and Rizvi had to cool his hill in the jail. He was released only in 1957 when he gave an undertaking to migrate to Pakistan within forty-eight hours of his release.

At the time of his departure to Pakistan, Rizvi gifted the MIM to Wahid Owaisi, the grandfather of Asaduddin Owaisi. Accepting such a gift from Rizvi proves the Islamist mindset of Owaisi family

Although the anti-BJP forces are accusing Owaisi as a ‘Cat among secular pigeons’ and view him as a challenge to the ‘secular’ parties but they forget that his politics of hard-minority-ism (Read Muslim) is born out only of the soft-minority politics of the so called secular parties which have never allowed the community to merge in the socio-political mainstream of the country.

Today by aligning with certain regional or national party the Muslims are found relevant in making or breaking government formation in State or Centre but due to their dispersed population throughout the country and the arithmetic of the electoral politics, they will be further alienated from the mainstream politics if they support Owaisi.

A few Muslim controlled parties like All India United Democratic Front of Mawlana Ajmal in Assam, Indian Union Muslim League in Kerala and Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference of Mufty Mohammad Syed and Abdullah family respectively in Jammu and Kashmir might have achieved some success in their respective states but they too had an alliance with some ruling parties to prove their political relevance. Similarly, so long the AIMIM was the alliance partner of the Congress in Hyderabad; it had proved its existence in the state of united Andhra Pradesh. But in the last couple of years particularly after breaking its alliance with Congress Party the AIMIM is behaving like a replica of the pre-Independence All India Muslim League under the patronage of British colonial power by formulating religion based political strategy and provoking the community over their imaginary discrimination in secular India.

Tufail Ahmad, a British journalist of Indian origin born in West Champaran district of Bihar and presently Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Washington DC in an article entitled “Jinnah of modern India” published in new Indian Express.com (http://www.newindianexpress.com/columns/Jinnah-of-Modern-India/2015/02/0…) has complemented Owaisi as “Jinnah of modern India” who had demanded separate territory for Muslims and Owaisi is demanding separate quota for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions. Overlooking the fact that the OBC Muslims are already enjoying the benefit of reservation, Owaisi is demanding quota for all the followers of Islam which is similar to the initial quota politics of Jinnah that had aggravated the communalisation of the Islamic society.

History has proved that the politics of Jinnah, Nizam and Rizvi only brought humiliation to the Indian Muslims. Had Jinnah not been obsessed to Muslimism or Nizam depended on Islamist Rizvi, the Indian Muslims would not have suffered from the demoralisation they had after partition and the Police Action in Hyderabad. Unfortunately, the AIMIM also carried forward the communal legacy of the pre-Independence Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) which was “regarded as remarkably aggressive and a violent face of Muslim militancy as it organized the Razakars to defend the independence of this Muslim State with Indian Union”. Therefore, the AIMIM is also known as “an Islamic, fundamentalist, secessionist, communal political party in India that was founded by the radicals among the Muslim population of Andhra Pradesh and the Muslim dominated areas of Hyderabad though it has units in some parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra” (Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia). The sole objective behind this Islamist character of the party has been to blackmail the ruling establishment in Andhra Pradesh for the self seeking interest.

How far Owaisi politics for the Muslims, by the Muslims and of the Muslims will succeed in a secular democratic country only time will say but immediate fall out of such separatist politics is only widening the prevailing gap of mistrust between the two major religious communities which is neither in the interest of the community nor of the country.

Owaisi entry in Bihar election might have alarmed the caste-ist parties but it is more a challenge to the Muslim voters of the state to prove whether they want the return of Jinnah politics or a democratic politics. The only remedy which lies with the Muslims of Bihar is to isolate the Islamist politics of Owaisi

*The author can be reached in E-mail [email protected]


SAAG is the South Asia Analysis Group, a non-profit, non-commercial think tank. The objective of SAAG is to advance strategic analysis and contribute to the expansion of knowledge of Indian and International security and promote public understanding.

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