Published On : Mon, Mar 2nd, 2015

Why are the Owaisi brothers gaining popularity rapidly?

owaisi-brothers-nagpurNagpur/Hyderbad: “The Modi of Muslims” or “The Modi of Hyderbad” Akbar Owaisi was called this by an observor which greatly angered both Hindus of Gujarat & elsewhere and Muslims everywhere. (They do not speak about it openly now, but Muslims of India were understandably, but rabidly anti-Modi in the run up to 2014 elections; they do not like any leader of theirs compared to him.)

But if one is to seek the real reason these inflammatory speech -making brothers are so popular and gaining in strength day by day the answer would lie in how Modi gained in popularity among Hindus post the Gujarat 2002 riots. The more secularists and liberals targeted him, the more he got to call them “anti-Gujarat” and “anti- Hindu” and gain Brownie points with the majority community.

Consciously or otherwise, that is exactly the blue print the MIM party is following to occupy the space of the Minority vote bank that Congress seems to have voluntarily abandoned when they made overtures for political alliance and an electoral tie up with MIM in AP elections. Secondly, it would be difficult for any national party to be a harbinger of Hate – against ‘Bharat’ and its Hindu netas – as a radical Muslim party can be.

What all other parties should now worry about is that Asaddudin Owaisi is now consciously clubbing Dalits too with Muslims since they seem to have realized the fragmented leadership that exists among the dalits and ‘maha dalits’ as can be viewed from the situation in UP, Bihar and Maharashtra too. In Maharashtra one wing actually joined hands with the BJP! This is a vote bank ALL parties are now scrambling to capture since elections in Bihar, followed by UP, are on the anvil. This was the quite-transparent reason BJP had demonstrated such affinity for Jitan Ram Manjha former CM of Bihar, whom ultimately they let down.
As Kingshuk Nag, resident Editor of TOI, Hyderabad explained in his columns some months ago – “Muslims in Hyderabad comprise 35 per cent of the city’s population. Unlike north Indian cities there is an upwardly mobile Muslim middle class here: many Muslims here are educated besides being well to do.

So why do they vote for Majlis-Ittehadul–Muslimeen (MIM), the party whose legislature party in the AP assembly is headed by Akbar? A few years ago I asked a very well to do Muslim professional whom he voted for. He said that MIM is a party of thugs, goondas and racketeers and he hoped that the end of the party would soon be seen. But he said that he voted for the MIM. Why this contradiction, I quizzed him? “I don’t want to vote for them till the last moment. But when I go to cast my franchise a thought comes to my mind. This is the only Muslim party. This is the only party that will take care of the Muslim community. So I vote for them.” This is in essence the reason for the popularity of the MIM: that for the Muslim it is the only Muslim party” writes Nag.

The MIM party made its entry into our mindscapes and Indian polity by making some really rabble rousing speeches. So obectionable were they, that one brother Akbar was arrested and put in jail, from where he was later released on bail but not before many could ask the question – if he, then why not the Hindutva radicals? In fact, one big gain for MIM was that during this period that Akbar spent in prison, the party could spread its popularity and its presence all over India from its base in Hyderabad. They even managed to win two seats in Maharashtra.

Going by their popularity, seen by the large crowds that listened with rapt attention to Asaddudin Owaisi in Nagpur two days ago, the MIM party will definitely make its presence felt in subsequent state elections in rest of India too.

But why should a Muslim vote only for a Muslim party? Many people wonder. “There are two main reasons: like all minorities they are acutely conscious about their being in a minority. Therefore safety and security is of great concern to them. The BJP, they do not trust and of the Congress they are increasingly getting wary of. In any case in Hyderabad, the Congress has since 1984 virtually ‘sub contracted’ a large part of the city to the MIM and withdrawn. So by default MIM is the only party. During many conversations over the years I have realized that the well to do Muslim I spoke with is not the only one. Many others think and behave exactly in the same fashion.” Writes Nag.

Now even some Hindus are asking, what wrong are Owaisis doing? As one guy Natarajan Kaleeshwaran has posted on a ‘discussion site ‘called Quora about the elder brother Asaddudin –

Can you share some links/ pointers where you found Asaduddin to be ‘so anti-India’?

Akbaruddin is different case and even there, he is anti-bjp and probably anti-hindu. If that makes him anti-India, countless hindu politicians too will fall in that category.

To be fair some ‘moderate’ Muslims too have come out openly against Akbar, specially. Read what this man Irshadul Haque had to say in ‘Kafila’ (translated into English by S Sengupta)

” Akbaruddin Owaisi, you are an enemy of Muslims. You are the kind of adversary who lurks like a snake in the grass, ready to strike at the person who cares for that patch. Your desire to provoke a confrontation between India’s 25 crore Muslims and 100 crore Hindus reminds us of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This is why Javed Akhtar has gone to the extent of calling you ‘the greatest enemy of Muslims’. I know that I am not alone when I find myself agreeing with this view. Many other Indian Muslims will be in agreement with me.

You belong to the party All India Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) that your grandfather Abdul Vahid Owaisi founded, and which your family has been running like a private limited company for the last fifty-sixty years. The Owaisi family is exactly like the Thackeray family of Maharashtra. After your grandfather’s death, your father Salahuddin Owaisi took charge of the family firm, and tried to expand it. Your father occasionally roared, often talked about Muslims and what is happening to them, and occasionally spoke against Hindus, but you have crossed all boundaries.

People like you occasionally come out of your lair, roar, and then hide once again in its darkness. You do not have the capacity to engage with anything outside Hyderabad. Raj Thackeray, like you, can spout venom in Shivaji Park about North Indian and Bihari Hindus and Muslims, but does not have the guts to step outside Mumbai. Ordinary people in this country now understand well that people like you and the Thackerays are complicit with each other. One lets out his bile against North Indian and Bihari Hindus and Muslims and the other against a hundred crore Hindus.”

Unfortunately Mr. Haq, your ‘sane voice’ is not being heard by majority of the Muslims and MIM party is indeed gaining ground fast outside AP too. You opined that the India of 2015 is very different from the India of 1947, when Jinnah had succeeded in making Muslims of India feel alienated and strangers in their own country India and had favoured the creation of Pakistan.

Yes, this India is not that of 1947. Because, compared to the Owaisis, Jinnah was much more ‘liberal’ and came across as much milder. That was an India where Hindu right wingers had not yet captured power or really come into mainstream Indian politics. Congress still ruled the roost then and no one would have believed that they would be reduced so drastically across India as to almost become invisible in large pockets. With crown prince Rahul taking to disappearing time and again, his party is decreasing in relevance too.

This is precisely the vaccum that parties like MIM are getting to fill up.