Strategic mistake

EducationWorld April 2022 | Magazine Postscript

Commendable facts checking by several online news portals, including Quint have refuted social media reports that the BJP won 165 of its 255 seats in the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh legislative election by less than 2,000 votes, and that the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) — a political party promoted by the Hyderabad-based Asaduddin Owaisi — had “scored generously” in these 165 constituencies and split the Muslim vote. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that in numerous constituencies, AIMIM played spoiler. Many Muslim votes harvested by AIMIM would have gone to the Samajwadi Party, which with 111 seats came a distant second to BJP in the 403-strong UP legislative assembly.

Undoubtedly Owaisi, a London-trained barrister, is well-versed in constitutional law and an articulate spokesperson of India’s 200 million-strong Muslim community. This minority has been at the receiving end of Hindu majoritarianism and hindutva politics skillfully practised by the BJP dispensation at the Centre since 2014 and in UP — India’s most populous state — since 2017. Yet the proper response to BJP which is hell-bent on consolidating India’s 85 percent Hindu majority behind it, is to intelligently ally with one or several anti-BJP parties which are committed to non-discriminatory, religious secularism that the leaders of India’s freedom movement and founding fathers of the elaborate Constitution of India preached and practised.

In addition to going it alone, Owaisi is making the strategic mistake of pandering to the orthodox Sunni clerics who have assumed leadership of India’s 200 million-strong Muslim community. Owaisi’s role model should be Prince Karim Agha Khan who over the past almost half century in cooperation with highly educated Ismaili Muslims, has transformed his 12-15 million followers scattered worldwide, into perhaps the world’s most prosperous non-Arab Muslim community. Among India’s Muslims who chose democratic India over theocratic Pakistan in 1947, there are millions of well-educated and enterprising individuals who can provide good political and economic leadership to the community, far better than the regressive clergy.

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