AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi at a party outreach programme in Aurangabad | Photo: Twitter | @aimim_national
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi at a party outreach programme in Aurangabad | Photo: Twitter | @aimim_national
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I met Asaduddin Owaisi for the first time in Kishanganj, in Bihar’s north-eastern Seemanchal region. I asked him point-blank the question everyone wants to ask him: Are you a BJP agent? He had a logical reply: “Why would I be contesting only a few seats if I was a BJP agent? Wouldn’t the BJP like to cut Muslim votes everywhere?”

Since then, I have paid closer attention to the pattern of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s (AIMIM) electoral attempts. They take a handful of seats, where Muslim voters are in large enough numbers to play a decisive role. They fight these elections to win, and not to help the BJP win. For instance, the AIMIM did not put up a single candidate in Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections since the SP and the BSP were putting up a joint fight and the AIMIM candidates would only have helped the BJP.

The idea that the AIMIM is a BJP agent, I was convinced, is a Congress conspiracy theory. For the Congress party and its sycophants, anyone who’s not with them is communal.

But this still didn’t tell me what Owaisi wanted. What was his goal? What was he trying to achieve? If he wasn’t even contesting elections on each seat, or joining any big coalitions, what could he achieve through electoral politics anyway? Muslims in his home state, Telangana, don’t care for the AIMIM outside Hyderabad. Even in his home state, Owaisi can never dream of becoming the chief minister. The AIMIM won’t be a party of governance any time soon. I wanted the answer to the big question: What does Asaduddin Owaisi want?


Also read: RJD gains 2 seats, JD(U) fares the worst as AIMIM leaves mark in Bihar bypolls


What does Owaisi want?

“What I want,” he replied, “is an MLA in every state assembly. Just one is enough. And I want him to stand up in the assembly and ask the secular parties, you took Muslim votes using the BJP to blackmail them. Now how about building roads and schools in Muslim-dominated areas?”

That, I thought, was a laudable goal. Muslim voters often feel they have no choice in elections. They have to vote for a crook from a secular party because the BJP doesn’t even want their votes. The BJP-RSS worker takes a 180-degree turn when s/he reaches a Muslim neighbourhood. In such a scenario, the presence of a Muslim party that threatens the idea of Muslims as a fixed vote-bank of secular parties is a noble one.

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This also means Owaisi is not trying to be the “sole spokesperson” for the Indian Muslims, a mischievous term used to describe Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Owaisi is, before anything else, a constitutionalist. Islam is his faith, the Constitution is his ideology. The point he wants to drive home is that the two can go together.

Youth icon

In Kishanganj in 2015, I saw young voters go crazy over Owaisi, like people are about their heroes. It was akin to how great sportspersons inspire hero worship. The phenomenon was explained to me by a Muslim journalist in Aligarh, who said that Owaisi was a product of post-Babri Muslim politics. The fall of the Babri Masjid in 1992 silenced vocal Muslim politicians who used to speak at mainstream public debates as Muslims. It also deepened the idea, almost to finality, that Partition had left no space for a “Muslim party” in Indian politics.

Owaisi challenges all these notions, and finds willing supporters in Muslim youth who were born after 1992. There is thus a generation divide among Muslims in Owaisi’s popularity: the pre-92 generation thinks he’s a bad idea, and the millennials think he’s just what they need. The young feel they don’t have to be apologetic about being Muslims and don’t need to accept second-class status. They think they must assert their rights as equal citizens as per the Indian Constitution, just like any other Indian, and that’s what Owaisi does on their behalf.

Obviously, Muslim votes alone are not going to help the AIMIM win seats. And why would Hindu voters want to vote for a Muslim party?

That’s why this constitutionalism is also part of the AIMIM’s appeal to Ambedkarite Dalits. The AIMIM has thus been trying, with some success, to build a coalition of the marginalised along with Dalits. A Muslim vote-bank gives the AIMIM the ability to transfer votes to a Dalit candidate, for instance. It was such an idea that led to the AIMIM’s alliance with Prakash Ambedkar in Maharashtra.

And yet, the AIMIM lost the 2015 election in Kishanganj. I saw young voters go up to Owaisi and say – they loved him but they’ll vote for him next time. After all, the Nitish-Lalu-Congress alliance had to be supported to defeat the BJP.


Also read: The Ayodhya connection to Asaduddin Owaisi’s Delhi home


Account opened

The AIMIM had stood a strong third in the Kishanganj Lok Sabha election in 2019. The Congress won the seat and the JD(U) stood second. Had it not been for the AIMIM, the JD(U), the BJP’s ally, would have won this seat. The only seat that the UPA won and the NDA lost in Bihar was Kishanganj, thanks to the votes cut by the AIMIM.

The Congress candidate was also the sitting MLA, therefore necessitating a bypoll for the Vidhan Sabha seat. Thursday, the AIMIM won that seat. The party has opened its account in Bihar. What’s even better is that the BJP stood second and the Congress stood third. In the Bihar assembly election in November 2020, Owaisi will be able to say that in Kishanganj it’s AIMIM versus BJP. The impact will be felt in the entire Seemanchal region.

New frontiers

The AIMIM had won two seats in the Maharashtra assembly in 2014, but lost them this time. But it picked up two new seats: Malegaon Central and Dhule City. In other words, the AIMIM has become a regular electoral party, and people are getting used to pressing the AIMIM’s kite symbol on the EVMs. The AIMIM used to be called a one-MP party, but now it has two MPs in the Lok Sabha: Imtiyaz Jaleel won the Aurangabad seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

In Uttar Pradesh, AIMIM has 30 seats in various municipal corporations – its party member was elected chairperson of the Dasna municipal council in Ghaziabad. Thursday, the AIMIM candidate in the Pratapgarh assembly bypoll stood third. Owaisi’s dream is coming true: he now has an MLA in Bihar and Maharashtra assemblies and the most important state in Indian politics, Uttar Pradesh, is within striking distance too.

The growing electoral success of the AIMIM is a reminder to secular parties that they cannot take Muslim voters for granted. If apathy or the fear of losing Hindu votes is going to make “secular” parties look away from Muslims, why blame Owaisi?


Also read: Article 370 move breach of constitutional promise by Nehru and Patel to J&K, says Owaisi


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24 Comments Share Your Views

24 COMMENTS

  1. Owaisi is doing what Muslims should have done since 1947. At last muslims are uniting under Muslim leadership. There was nothing worse then puppet Muslim in Congress or any other party. They would bring this puppet for votes then keep him on the shelf till next election.

    That being said, Owaisi/MIM should be kept on a short leash by Muslims. Power/fame/wealth all cause corruption. There is already some corruption within MIM; Owaisis also are not exactly clean but that is nature of Indian politics.

    Moving forward, muslims should support MIM but also create independent watch groups which should keep a close eye on MIM.

    Muslims need to become extremely tough. You are fighting for your very survival. RSS/BJP agenda is well known. Expect no quarter; give no quarter; it’s a uphill battle; but uphill battles can be won. Allah is our helper!

  2. All said and done, the fact is again proved that., ” One Muslim is strong enough to liquidate tens of Hindus/Kafirs. ”

    Latest example, Victory of Owaisi over many in Kishanganj, Cong candidate in Bandra and so on.

  3. Come Hyderabad we will show you what he has done for everyone ground level PA kam hota hai and we as a hydrabadi satisfied with his work

  4. Asaduddin Owaisi is a lone crusader in the existing political scenario and he is taking up the legitimate issues within the ambit of constitution and proving his points with facts and figures.
    In the past so called nationalist Muslim leaders were playing second fiddle to their political masters and had no spine to stand up for the issues bothering their community but used, reused time and again for their personal glory, gain and gratis.
    Now, Asaduddin has no masters over him and understood the core issues bothering his community and the country. He must be allowed to have his political space in Indian democratic system.

  5. Mr.ASADUDDIN and team MIM make Muslims their scapegoats for their party’s survival. MIM has not done any remarkable work for Hyderabad old city Muslims ever since it became party. MIM is relying upon their paid goons/ criminal minded party workers at hustings. AIMIM did not empower even a single Muslim in walled city. It takes undue advantage of Muslims non political mind, loots Muslims votes merely demonstrating as if it is champion of their cause. MIM lacks its Muslims empowerment or political roadmap. Indian masses are not concerned about true democracy and accountability of public representatves but believe in those who show paradise in their palms or use the institution of unseen gods or religions to win mandate for only opportunistic leaders growth or communal parties like AIMIM’s or BJP’s survival etc., Jai Hind

  6. Why Owaisi saheb never said anything
    about EVM…no#1
    Then he always do controversial speech which shut the door of some hindu vote….which shows he is agent.

  7. Only Insanes and and the Supporters of the Killer of Our Father of the Nation thinks that Asad uddin Owaisi is a fundamentalist otherwise he is a blue eyed barrister for Secular minded people of the country. Go through his speeches or debates and you will find that he always refer Constitution and the rights accorded by it while he speaks . Hatred for him or Indian Muslims shows the bankrupt mindsets of a handful of Bhagwa aatankwaadeeeees.

  8. Constitutionalist, constitutionalism words from the mouth of devil.lol. Does constitution allow mur*er of kam*esh *iw ari. He speaks of constitutional values, gandhi values cleverly to get acceptability in the media but he is an Is*amist who openly called for *eath of *am*esh *iwari. He runs is*amis* agenda by using secularism, democracy,gandhi .

  9. Whether AIMIM is doing good or not is immaterial, the point is that this bunch of anglicised ‘terrorist-mindset’ people named by various names like ‘TheGuardian’, ‘ThePrint’, ‘TheWire’, ‘Scroll’, ‘BBC hindi’, ‘ForwardPress’ etc. all can go to any lengths to demean India, Indian Government, to adore Pro-pak terrorism, to hide pak atrocities in sindh-baloch region, to insult indian Gods/Goddess.

    They all will soon perish under their sins and they all will soon die due to Identity Crisis, i.e. torn between anglicised renaissance versus Jihadist-mindset!

  10. He has my support for an effective antidote to the risk of Hindu majoritarianism. He speaks frankly against BJP and fearlessly against ISIS. We need dissenting voice to make democracy meaningful. He is the most valuable colour in the rainbow of our diverse socially.

    Also so refreshing to see this writer writing something readable !

  11. Another fake and disgusting article from the print. Owaisi is not a constitutionalist. He is a big fundamentalist and hardliner of Islam. He is the guy who keeps abusing Hindus and Hindu deities. And you are projecting him as alternative to secular parties. Biggest fake news channel and propaganda machine

  12. OYC always thinks as Muslim rather than a Indian or Hindustani. For anything and everything he drag religion. It is not good for the country.

  13. When they play Identity politics its fair when BJP addresses problems of Hindus its communal.This is not done.Identity politics cannot be allowed in India.Parties cannot be named after communities

  14. Intel agencies must keep an eye on this owaisi and his nexus. He isa new jihadi politician in making butwitha larger goal.

  15. AIMIM candidates are good for nothing. Ad Waris Pathan lost cause he did not work for his constituency. How can Owaisi claim they will raise voice for Muslims if his party vandidayes take it for granted. Its just power hungry party who wants to rise with support of muslim sentiments.

  16. A good initiative. Muslims, especially the young, should retain their absolute faith and conviction that the system will protect their constitutional rights. The last few years have not been a good time for them.

    • India is for dharmics, Arabi followers can move to their masters country. Last few yrs?? We have been appeasing them for last 72 yrs here.

      • Owaisi is a constitutionalist, well read, articulate and has mass appeal among Muslim youth. The south has many role models and Owaisi’s popularity among youth in the north is only logical given the choices in front of them otherwise – lack of role model politicians and desire to be part of the mainstream narrative as a proud Muslim. The Hindutva guys will hate him because he is smarter than them, and they are unable to accept given their limited understanding of a India and its history.

      • This is your country? You’ve a greater right over it than any other Indian Muslim? If yes, then prove it.

        I’d call a person anti-national if he didn’t believe in constitution of the country or disrespected it’s national treasures & resources. Bigotry will not take you anywhere.

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