Guest post by ABHAY KUMAR
Ever since Asaduddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (henceforth MIM), addressed a well-attended public meeting in Kishanganj on August 17, speculation about his party contesting election in Bihar has been rife. Three weeks after the rally, Owaisi, eventually, decided that he would field candidates in Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region of Kishanganj, Araria, Purnia and Katihar. “MIM will put up candidates in Bihar’s Seemanchal region, which is not only backward but also has a lot of problems. There has to be over all development,” Owaisi told media, giving the leaders of anti-Hindutva Grand Alliance jitters.
Contrary to Owaisi’s latest move, some political observers had held the view that given the weak organisational structure of the MIM in Bihar and late entry in the state, Owaisi was unlikely to jump into assembly election. For example, senior journalist and political commentator, Khurshid Hashmi said that if Owaisi had been serious about Bihar election, he would have launched his campaign much earlier as he did in UP. Continue reading Scramble for Muslim Votes as Owaisi Jumps into Bihar Polls: Abhay Kumar
Guest Post by Sanjay Kumar
Mr Asaduddin Owaisi, the leader of MIM recently remarked in a media conclave that ‘Muslims are not coolies of secularism’. The statement made perfect sense for his politics. He is the leader a party that aims to mobilise voters on the basis of them being Muslim. The unprecedented success of Hindutva under Mr Modi in recent elections has upset many old electoral calculations, and opened new opportunities. Mr Owaisi is smelling a chance for the MIM to expand beyond its turf in Hyderabad, to regions where non-BJP parties have been getting the major chunk of Muslim votes with the slogan of secularism, seen principally as the promise of protection from riots. For Mr Owaisi, the remark serves multiple purposes. Average Muslim citizens are deeply disillusioned with a political process that has resulted in the utter marginalisation of their community. For such voters, the statement is intended to clearly distinguish his party from the so-called secular non-BJP parties. It is calibrated to raise a doubt in their mind, why should only Muslims be expected to vote for such parties, when significant sections of the Hindus have sided with the communal BJP? It is also a preemptive answer to his political competitors and ideological critics, who are likely to accuse him of being communal.
Otherwise too, the secular discourse in India has largely become a minorities’ affair. It is said to be under threat when minorities are attacked. It is claimed to be flourishing when minorities rights are protected. A corollary belief among major sections of the so called majority community is that India could have as well been non-secular if there were no minorities in the country, or if they are put in their place as the RSS political programme demands. Continue reading The Secular Stake- A Burden, or a Democratic Imperative? Sanjay Kumar