File photo | AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi | Facebook/Asaduddinowaisi
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I have forced myself to write a response to Yogendra Yadav’s latest column in ThePrint in which he has stigmatised the rise of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen or AIMIM as a worrisome news.

Even though the highly superficial critique of psephologist-turned-politician Yogendra Yadav does not make sense logically, it does make sense as a public display of bête noir. If we pay close attention, we will realise that what a wide range of politicians say about the success of Asaduddin Owaisi’s party in the Bihar assembly election comes from a sense of reluctance in accepting the fact that Muslim votes are no longer their private deposit that they can keep taking for granted.

The rise of AIMIM, outside Hyderabad, and more specifically in India’s Hindi heartland, has rattled most of the secular political fronts equally. When the Bihar election results were announced, giving the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) another five years despite a decent fight from Tejashwi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RLD)-led Mahagathbandhan (MGB), many Congress leaders were unhappy. At one point, it felt as if the Congress was more dejected with the AIMIM winning five seats in what once used to be its stronghold, Seemanchal, than losing the election overall.

One of the Congress’ tallest Muslim leaders from Bihar, Tariq Anwar, wrote on Twitter saying “NDA should thank Owaisi for helping them form government for another term in Bihar”. The Youth Congress’ official Facebook page shared several posters and cartoons suggesting the same thing — the AIMIM is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s B-team and that Owaisi has helped the NDA win Bihar. But the election data destroys all such claims. This is not the first time, though, that Congress leaders have made this superficial claim. During the Telangana assembly election in December 2018, Rahul Gandhi had said: ‘TRS is BJP’s B-team, AIMIM is BJP’s C-team’.


Also read: The BJP does not want Owaisi, the BJP does not need Owaisi


Yogendra Yadav needs a reality check

Yogendra Yadav’s critique is pejoratively clever. He alleges that the AIMIM is a “particularly pernicious political outfit”. He explains the history of the Hyderabad-based party and tries to delegitimise it by questioning its loyalty and allegiance to India for its positioning in the ‘India or Pakistan’ episode, when Hyderabad was an independent state. I am yet to see any other political party’s loyalty being questioned for what its founding members did before 1947. We know about the Congress celebrating Hindu Mahasabha founder Madan Mohan Malviya, other Hindu nationalists like Lala Lajpat Rai and even V.D. Savarkar.

Even when the Congress is criticised for its past, the criticism lies around its mistakes and blunders, or at most for its ‘Muslim appeasement’. However, the AIMIM has not been labelled ‘dubious’ by Yogendra Yadav for its mistakes. Instead, the party’s loyalty and allegiance to India has been questioned.

Furthermore, Yogendra Yadav also alleges that the AIMIM is a communal outfit. He, however, is sincere enough to acknowledge that the AIMIM is not the only communal outfit. He writes that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the Milli Council, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), and various factions of Kerala Congress are equally communal. The AIUDF, as Yadav suggests, is different only in the sense that it does not carry ‘communalism’ in its name. I wonder what stopped him from including the Indian National Congress (INC), which represents Brahmins; Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which represents Baniyas; Samajwadi Party (SP), which represents Yadavs in Uttar Pradesh; Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which represents Yadavs in Bihar; Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which represents Dalits in UP, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), which represents Rajbhars; Apna Dal, which represents Kurmis; and Bahujan Vanchit Aghadi (VBA), which represents Dalits in Maharashtra, among others. It should be noted that Yogendra Yadav only chose to name the parties that represent three minority communities — Sikhs, Christians and Muslims.

In the end, Yogendra Yadav’s biggest concern is that Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM may well be the right partner that Hindu majoritarian politics is looking for. I am afraid that he needs to be reminded that Hindutva politics has already won two Lok Sabha elections, and has seemingly compromised all the State institutions, without the help of AIMIM. The Narendra Modi government has been re-elected with a greater majority than before, and his popularity has been on rise despite everything. Hindu majoritarian politics was indeed looking for opportunities, which were served to them by the secular leaders themselves. The reception of Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan by secular parties legitimised Hindu majoritarian politics. So did the reception of the Ayodhya verdict by secular parties and the repeated silence of these parties on issues that concerned Muslims.


Also read: Why UP opposition parties are jittery after Owaisi performance in Bihar


Shifting the blame from secular parties

It is easier for Yogendra Yadav to look the other way, but the reality is that since Modi’s second term, Hindu majoritarian politics has shifted from ‘Hindu khatre mein hai‘ (Hindus are in danger) to ‘Musalmanoñ ko darr ke jeena padega‘ (Muslims have to live in fear). The BJP does not need Asaduddin Owaisi’s party to make their point. Secular parties have failed to establish social justice by failing to give Muslims their fair share of representation while taking Muslim votes for granted until now. The reports of Sachar Committee, Kundu Committee and numerous other researches clearly indicate the failure of secular parties vis-à-vis Muslims. These parties have paved ways for Hindu majoritarian politics to not just operate but to bloom. It is the inconsistent policies of the secular parties that must be blamed. That was the only opportunity Hindu majoritarian politics was looking for. We are past that. Yogendra Yadav and others are afraid that if Muslims start voting for a Muslim-led party, almost every secular front will have to become what they really are — political outfits representing different castes. The AIMIM is not a secular party because Hindus do not vote for it. The Samajwadi Party is a secular party because Muslims also vote for it other than Yadavs.

Yogendra Yadav is getting it wrong. He is trying to shift the blame of bringing Hindu majoritarian politics from the Hindu majority to Muslims — as if Hindu majoritarian politics would cease to exist had it not been for Asaduddin Owaisi or any other Muslim political outfit. It is about time that members of the Hindu community start owning their own mess instead of blaming Muslims as the BJP does.

Yogendra Yadav’s secularism demands Muslims to vote for Hindu-led parties just as they have been doing almost religiously since 1947. Muslims voting for the AIMIM — a Muslim-led party — in his view, means Muslims are rejecting secularism. This binary is highly problematic. If Yogendra Yadav suggests that in order to save secularism, Muslims should give up their best chance of getting truly represented, this secularism must not be saved. Asaduddin Owaisi’s rise lies in the response (or lack of it) of secular parties to the BJP’s Hindu majoritarian politics. Yogendra Yadav must not assume the AIMIM will be a ‘Muslim BJP’. Instead, for a change, the Hindu majority should, for once, rally behind a Muslim leader and save Indian secularism. After all, no politician stands as tall as Asaduddin Owaisi in countering Hindu majoritarian politics or in displaying the secular ethos of the Constitution in their public speeches. Yogendra Yadav’s unwillingness to acknowledge that a Muslim leader who is not sanctioned by existing secular parties can be secular, is Islamophobia.

Sharjeel Usmani is a student leader and the National Secretary of Fraternity Movement. Views are personal.

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45 Comments Share Your Views

45 COMMENTS

  1. Indians haven’t forgotten the threat of genocide by AIMIM’s Akbaruddin Owaisi for which neither he nor his brother has even apologized.

    A party promoting genocide isn’t merely a representative of Muslims as you proclaim. It is a radical Islamist party.

    It makes AIMIM at least as bad as BJP(in fact, worse).

  2. All communities are drawn to vote according to there caste in Hindus, which we know, Muslims vote for there religion, true, but rest of the authors argument is very naive. INC is Brahmins?! So what is BJP representing?. Some of the tallest leaders who have staunchly been against caste system and vouched for scientific education of the people of India and integration of all Indians are Brahmins. There are various people from various castes who have also supported these ideals and who have tried to realize a India as dreamed of by the founding members.
    Now question is how many such Muslim leaders do or did exist any time since independence, or please name 1 leader who openly condemns the UN-constitutional and in humane aspects of the Muslim religion, urges Muslims to educate themselves and think for themselves and not be subservient to the Imams and the concept of Umma and supports the staunch implementation of the constitution?. Even the Muslim leaders of the Congress do not do any of this, they only appease, hence people have thrown them out.
    People like Owaisi, just want to use the Muslim base and get elected and then push Muslims to become more radical and fundamental, which is what will help them to keep in power.
    So comparing other parties with Owaisi party is simply stupid.

  3. The author says, “Instead, for a change, the Hindu majority should, for once, rally behind a Muslim leader and save Indian secularism.” Despite the Muslim leaders deception in the 40’s in getting the country divided on religious lines, the Hindus were magnanimous to the Muslims and trusted their leaders. After Independence, there were many Hindu-majority parliamentary constituencies that sent Muslim leaders as their parliamentarians.
    Arif M. Khan, for example, was elected to the Lok Sabha by the Hindu majority of Kanpur. Likewise, there were Muslim MPs from the Hindu-majority areas of Rajasthan. The number of the Muslim MPs was also substantial in the Lok Sabha. It began to decline after the Muslim MPs, under pressure from the Islamists, claimed themselves as leaders of Muslims and not of Indians.
    Make no mistake. History bears ample proof that Muslim leaders in a democratic society all over the world vouch for civil liberty and secularism only as long as they get to power; after that they turn Islamists and non-Muslims in their societies become second class “dhimmis.” The Muslims in India, like the author, are brain-washed to fear a scenario similar to that but under the Hindu dispensation.
    Yogendra, in his piece on Owaisi, has thankfully come to a point where he acknowledges the reality. He would earn the Islamists’ laurels as long as he kept siding with them against “the majoritarian” government of the NDA. Any reprimand, friendly suggestions or admission of truth will earn him the title of an “Islamophobe.”

  4. First yogendra yadav must admit his mistake of being part of the agitation, which brought down the congress ruled govt. in 2014. Why he is afraid of Owaisi, his argument is clearly communal and out of jealousy. He could not achieve what Owaisi has achieved. Instead of praising Owaisi and acknowledging Owaisi’s hard work and brilliance, he is trying to create an atmosphere of fear. His arguments clearly reflect the same mentality of Kejrival.

  5. Haha
    Not supporting Owaisi is now ‘Islamophobia’
    Only yesterday these pigs had problem with saffron colour of BJP. Now ‘Muslimeen’, skull cap, ’15 minutes no Police, converted pigs will show Hindus their place’ is now secular.
    Sharjeel Usmani & likes of him are sleeper cells of ISIS. I sense another Muslim League & Jinnah but do keep in mind, this time there won’t be partition but this monstrous ideology will be eradicated for sure.
    Have faith true Indians, we will fight this Jihadi mentality & it’s entire breed.

  6. A few comments are in order. 1. If RSS JS BJP can be accused of collaborating with British or not being part of the freedom movement, then Razakar based party stands the same charge. Owaisi must apologize for the past and move on. 2. There is nothing wrong in having political parties formed based on religion, castes, sub castes, language, region based considerations. So AIMMS is just fine just as Akali, SP, RJD, Sena, AIADMK, DMK etc. 3. To defeat Congress, BJP had to consolidate Hindu vote as Congress and other parties were busy in social and minority based vote engineering. 4. Once an all India Muslim party comes up, then this strategy will undergo a big change and appeasement politics will be over. In the process, Congress may get wiped out and its voters will move to partly BJP and partly to various regional parties. In fact, the word secular will no longer be in vogue later!!

    UPA and NDAs will remain as no single party can form government on its own though BJP will remain the largest party.

    Sickular Yogendra can find is own place into this melee!!

  7. We can’t ignore the fact that AIMIM win 5 seats only in Muslim majority area ( simanchal area muslim population higher anywhere else in bihar). My biggest fear is Owaisi would become next Jinnah ( who was dedicated freedom fighter but later indulge in divisive politics strictly on religious line ).
    I also agree indian muslim doesn’t need to prove deshprem to anyone. I have full faith in indian muslim but not on Owaisi and his party sadly.

  8. On an average only 60% of registered eligible voters exercise their franchise in any election in India. The winning candidate gets just about 33% of the popular votes cast. So much for our democracy. Having said that, considering about 90% of the registered eligible Muslim voters cast their votes, these votes can surely swing results any which way in certain states and areas. The problem is just that. Political parties since Independence, have strived to get a large share of these “swing” votes. India being a large Nation with a federal structure of democracy, it is perpetually on election mode. Under the circumstance, I wonder about the motives of the new parties. More can be achieved from cooperation than confrontation.
    As they say, anything is possible in the Indian political context? Or is it?

  9. AIMIM has deep rooted history in the erstwhile Hyderabad state, where after 1947 Razakars, the violent mob headed by Quasim Razvi perpetrated atrocities on unarmed Hindu majority. This is the history after 1947 and not prior to it. It is only due the foresight shown by Saradar Patel that the state of Hyderabad acceded to India. AIMIM inherits this history and legacy.
    Here is the history of hate speeches by Akbaruddin Owesi, the younger brother of Asauddin:
    In August 2007, along with other elected and serving members of his party, Owaisi made death threats against Tasleema Nasreen, pledging that the fatwa against her and Salman Rushdie were to be abided by Owaisi said, “we in Hyderabad want to behead this woman according to the fatwa.”

    While speaking at a rally in Kurnool in 2011, Owaisi used the derogatory terms Kafirs and Kufrastan to refer to MLAs in Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Assembly. In the same rally he used the Urdu words like Quatil, Darinda, beimaan dhokebaz for former PM PV Narasimha Rao. Owesi said if Rao had not died, he (Owesi) would have killed Rao with his own hands.

    In April 2012, Owaisi made derogatory and demeaning comments against Hindu god Ram and his mother Kaushalya. . Owaisi asked “Where all did Ram’s mother go wandering and where did she give birth to him”.

    In August 2012, Owaisi claimed while speaking in Karimnagar that there have been “50,000” riots in India over 65 years since the country became independent. He claimed in the speech that a “majority” of those killed in the riots were Muslims.
    The list is endless. Akbaruddin still continues to be in the party and no action initiated against him for his hate speeches. He is MLA in Telangana.
    Now in Feb, 2020, AIMIM leader Waris Pathan said that 15 crore Muslims can dominate 100 crore Hindus. The arrangement seems to be that Asauddin will talk of constitutionalism, secularism and all good things and his followers will incite Muslims with hate speeches
    To look for secular credentials in AIMIM is ridiculous.

  10. This is one of the most if not the most butt hurt opiod I’ve read on any major news outift ; the use of colourful language to hide the very lack of contextual and relevant arguments should be appreciated in this given piece anyhow

  11. A party founded on the basis of “Muslim dominion”
    cannot be expected to be secular .. On top of that , the Literal meaning of “AIMIM” is “council for unity of Muslims”.
    When everybody is interested in Muslims only in thay party, then how can this article be written in th first place criticising people of othe religion..
    This article is an absolute disgrace.

  12. Muslim should vote secular honest party,must remain in mainstream,be partner in building nation,in Bihar ,for them to vote,best party is JDU

  13. All said and done , BJP is the only Secular party in the country.
    Owaissi or Ajmal can only exploit muslims and instigate them against the motherland.
    Owaissi is another Jinnah in the making. Jinnah boasted of carving Pakistan with the help of just one typist!!!
    BJP at the moment is on a reset mode to right the wrongs of past few centuries especially the Appeasement phase post independence. The mis-concept of minority majority once sorted out, BJP will take the country on Prosperity for All path.
    We need to get rid of all dynasts asap as they are only interested in self promotion. There should be only two parties in the country – congress need to reinvent to be a constructive opposition!

  14. Leave pre-47 history for now.. Does anybody remember what was the event that made a Hyderabad leader a national one almost overnight. It was when his brother abused Ram’s mother. Since that day, Owaisi has been darling of national media and his politics has seen great heights. I wonder what does author mean by Indian muslims have a chance to be truly represented by Owaisi. Last time, when a Muslim leader asserted that only he can represent Muslims and not Congress (blamed to be a hindu party at that time), we know what happened. This is the same narrative which owaisi propagates. Let’s see how it unfolds this time.

  15. This guy just wrote that if you don’t consider Owisi secular then you are Islamophobic. The same Owaisi who assaulted Taslima Nasrin and because of his speech Kamlesh Tiwari was beheaded for blasphemy. And made comments like every child is born Muslim. And these closet Islamists wants us to believe that Owaisi is secular. Such dumbfuck Islamists are trying to respond to Yogendra Yadav.

  16. I agree with the author that AIMIM has risen due to sickular parties’. It is like the sickular parties have been unmasked to expose their fake secularism. People practically dont live by constitution but by their hearts and minds. Thats why secularism matters most in hearts and minds of ppl then in a book which 99% indians dont even read.

    Senior Owaisi is a smart man and he might do some good for the muslims. As a hindu I welcome it. Though this younger brother was problematic but I consider his speeches theatrical rather than anything else.

    In a democratic country we should welcome ppl to vote anyway they want. Real problems arise when ppl cant have their issues addressed. If AIMIM is able to channel the dissatisfaction of muslims and give them political space, AIMIM rise should be welcomed as much as BJP, SHS and SAD.

  17. Akbaruddin represents the moral and ideological moorings of his party.

    HINDUS must understand that ethnic cleansing of HINDUS was carried out in pakistan and Bangladesh.

    If a illiberal says that’s not possible in INDIA. Please ask him to explain what happened in Kashmir.

    Also why youths of a particular community from kerala are fighting religious war in Syria Afghanistan and other places.

    HINDUS must vote for a party which will not discriminate against HINDUS and protect their religious rights and keep them safe.

  18. The writer conviniently side steps the fact that in Hyderabad where Assauddin Owaisi has consistently being elected is one of the most backward constituencies in Telangana despite being partners to TRS and Congress earlier. He is fooling muslims elsewhere when his own long held consituency is yet to see any substantial development work.

  19. Forget about political parties. Think of Hindu religion and Islam. Islam cannot tolerate any person who does not believe in Allah. Khur an asks Muslims to keep fighting unbelievers till they become believers. In that fight Khur an wants Muslims to kill unbelievers. Can any religion co-exist with Islam in a peaceful manner? Pre-BJP Hinduism was absolutely tolerant. Hindus turned partisan only because of the intolerant attitude of Muslims. Owaisi’s party is a symbol of that intolerance and the acceptance of Owaisi by Muslims signal that they are not willing to change. This will only aggravate the distance between the two communities to the detriment of peace in the country.

  20. Pakistan was given to Muslims, I don’t see problem in having Hindustan for Hindus.

    If world has Islamophobia then Islam has worldphobia.

    Their was no Voice to represent Hindus since 1947. Now their is someone who is listening to them simple.

  21. Having read both arguments Sharjeel’s core counter-argument seems to be, “Why can’t a Muslim-led party be considered secular?”
    I would say that’s because AIMIM has a genuinely murky history with secularism, just as much as Shiv Sena or BJP.

    Having watched Yogendra’s video on the same topic, he does clarify that he blames the secular front parties for this development and not Muslim voters. I agree with both authors that this is the case.

  22. The next Jinnah is here.
    Today its a party for Muslims. Tomorrow, reserved seats in the parliament only for Muslims. Day after that, we cannot live among infidels. We want another Pakistan.
    Isn’t how the last partition happened? We are on our way to the next one.
    Indians never learn from history.
    Anyone who thinks the Owaisis are patriots should have their head checked.

    • Jinnah used the same principles of ‘secularism’ to get publicity and then unleashed his Two Nation Theory.
      AIMIM founders were the Razakars – who killed Hindus in the erstwhile Hyderabad province.
      Be wary of Owaisi – he will ask for a Shia – istan (his family daren’t go to Pakistan where Shias are slaughtered after the Ahmedis) carved out of India. The Shia in this country will willingly vote for him.

  23. Islam is a monotheistic religion which requires absolute allegiance and everything is secondary. It can never be secular, is my opinion, given its fundamental structure. All the so-called Sickular parties are nothing but a bunch of opportunists, who couldn’t get into BJP. Or need a following to make a livelihood. Let’s call a spade, a spade.

  24. AIMIM lead by Barrister Asaduddin shahab is a threat to secular parties,n it’s a fact.but yogendra Yadav being an ahir from Haryana is naturally worry becoz of Muslims rallying behind Barrister Asaduddin shahab.Had he been an ahir from UP or Bihar then the outcry would have been different.Samajwadi party lead by Akhilesh Yadav or RJD lead by Tejaswi Yadav in proxy to Lalooji seems to be not worry as yogendra Yadav.I think Barrister Asaduddin shahab’s AIMIM may show positive response from Muslims in coming days. Criticism of so called intellectual regarding the voting style of Muslims off late nothing to do with the grassroot Muslims centement.

  25. I hold no brief for Yogendra Yadav . But the author should dwell on Akbaruddin Owaisi and Waris Pathan statements before certifying AIMIM as secular

  26. Denying leadership to Muslims by so called secular parties must be cause of worry. SP milked Muslim fully but when question of passing the baton raises they prefer their kind. Same is repeated by other parties. Thus it is very obvious that some day party with Muslim leadership emerges in India.

  27. Mr. Sharjeel Usmani’s last line is absolutely correct. But a few minor modifications are required – “Mr. Yogendra Yadav’s (and other liberals’) refusal to acknowledge that a Hindu leader (Mr. Modi/Mr. Shah/Yogi) who is not sanctioned by existing secular parties can be secular, is Hinduphobia”.

    • There is nothing wrong in Muslims voting to a Muslims party,after having been cheated by all thee so called secular parties for decades as shown by Sachar report.
      All these parties are. Secular in name. Their attitudes towards Muslims rights are well exposed at the time of CAA and abrogation of Kashmir rights.But it is foolish for them to think Assauddin their saviour. T He will only help strengthening. Communal polarisation.The only solution is to join progressive forces and co sufferers of Hindutva. Politics like Dalits, Adivasis,and Bahujans,christian minorities.

  28. Don’t take Yogender Yadev seriously. Nobody does! He is simply very opinionated jester for the print. You would have noticed that that the print does not have an official humour column, Shri Yadevji does the honours unofficially,

  29. No article by dim wits is possible without the word Islamophobia.

    Well…..if someone blows up the WTC and beheads ppl invoking a religion then its natural to be afraid of that religion.

    Every one is afraid of rabid dogs….isn’t it????

  30. Baat bus itni hai ki Owaisi does politics same manner as BJP. If you treat bjp as communal then why not owasisi.problem is not owasisi or BJP but the way they do politics use religion for political purposes

  31. I hope the author is not suggesting that AIMIM is a secular party!!
    it is not the muslims but hindhus who have started living in fear in india till BJP came back to power in india.
    Starting from the late 1980’s Islam is becoming more and more a militant religion – not only just physically but also asserting and imposing its religious views whereever it is possible. so many countries in Europe are living example of such assertiveness.
    More dangerously the passive majority of the community is not apologetic about such assertiveness.
    It looks like Islam would never want democracy. therein lies the danger for india.
    But it must be said that this transformation came about only in the late 1980’s and not before.
    All said and done owaisi is well educated man and if the muslims repose faith him and if he can use this faith for not only doing good for the community but also help regain communal harmony in the contry, it is a most welcome.
    As you have mentioned all parties have a caste/religion base and you cannot blame only AIMIM for it.
    I am writng this not as an initiated hindhu but as an atheist.

    • Hindus can be atheists. There are no commandments. Nowhere does Hinduism impose any belief system. Each to his/her own including atheism. Do read up on all the schools of thought within Hinduism.

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