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‘Muslim’ political parties are fraught with danger

For Syed Ubaidur Rahman(Sify) long, many Muslims are of the view that their issues can be solved by Muslim political parties. Many community leaders while talking about the failure of mainstream political parties in taking care of Muslim issues rue the fact that they have failed the Muslims.

While there may be some truth in their anguish and lack of trust in mainstream political parties in the country, are Muslim political parties the panacea that will take care of Muslims and solve all their issues.

This is something that has pitted one section of intelligentsia among the community against the other. In the last couple of years Muslims have experimented with political parties in almost every part of the country. Many religious parties too have launched their political arms, and while some of them seem to have achieved a modicum of success, the others have not.

Jamaat-eIslami Hind (JIH)’s Welfare Party of India has been a massive failure. When launched, its founder president told this writer they will have a representative in Parliament within two years. When informed there was no Parliamentary election in sight, he told confidently that when a seat falls vacant, one of their candidates will be able to win the seat and enter the Parliament.

It is needless to say the Welfare Party of India is in shambles. After Parliamentary elections and assembly elections in many states, this part hasn’t been able to win a single seat in any assembly election across the country, let alone getting one of their own elected to Parliament.

But all efforts have not been so frightening failures. Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind leader and a business magnate Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi launched his Assam United Democratic Front almost a decade ago. Since then it has become a major political force in the state.

Nonetheless many among the community have been trying to ask one single question, who benefited from the success of the AIUDF. With Ajmal family completely dominating the party and at least four of the Ajmal clan members in Parliament and assembly, the party seems to be an extension of their successful business venture that extends to many nations across the world. The perfume baron, as Ajmal is known, has inducted his young son in the party fold besides his brothers. Now his son, a young graduate, is member of the state assembly.

Despite its tall claims, the party has failed to benefit the community. While it cannot win a majority in a state, it will continue to remain on the margins while ensuring that Ajmal clan is benefited from their political venture. Muslims’ representation in the state government has gone down and despite all their claims they haven’t been able to do anything about anti-Muslim communal riots in the state.

While AIUDF has failed to expand outside the state, trying to emerge as a pan India Muslim political party, there is one party that seems to be pretty successful.

Hyderabad based Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) of Asaduddin Owaisi and Akbaruddin Owaisi has been more fortunate than Ajmals in its endeavor to extend its reach to different parts of the country.

Largely a party confined to old Hyderabad in Telangana till very recently, the MIM led by the fiery duo has seen a meteoric rise in its fortunes.

When the votes were being counted following the last assembly elections in Maharashtra, the party caught the fancy of almost everyone. At one point they seemed to be winning at least six seats in state assembly. Though they ended up winning two assembly seats in the state and losing at least four other seats with slender margins, their achievement was huge. If that was not enough, the party came up with even better performance in civic bodies’ elections earlier this year, cutting Congress and NCP votes in many corporations.

Now the party is working overtime in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to expand its reach in the Hindi heartland where Muslims have sizeable population.

While parties like Assam United Democratic Front and Welfare Party of India don’t try to communalize the situation in their spheres of influence to gain traction of votes, the Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen is taking this precise course to expand in new areas. The way the two brothers talk seems to be completely insane.

Their whole idea of gaining acceptance among Muslims across the country or wherever they want to establish themselves is through communalizing situation. The other aspect that they exploit is of course the issue of marginalization of Indian Muslims and lack of their representation in the country. The duo talks of marginalization of Muslims in education and employment and assures the youth they are the ones who can safeguard the interest of Muslims in the country.

There is no denying the fact that with Hindu extremist organizations trying to spread fear among Muslims in many areas of the country especially UP, Bihar and Delhi, the fiery speeches of the brothers are met with equally charged response from the audience.

Muslim youth are easily lured by their rabble rousing and rhetoric laced with promises and more promises. One thing that lures the youth and even not so young is their promise of giving Muslims political empowerment. They talk about tit for tat and many people take them and their promises on face value.

The Maharashtra win seems to have emboldened them tremendously and now the small party that was confined to old Hyderabd till a year or so ago, is now trying to establish itself at grassroots level in Hindi heartland. They are making maximum use of social media including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter too and every speech and comment by the two leaders is taken to remotest area where they want to influence the people.

Despite some of their successes, MIM’s modus operandi is dangerous for the Indian Muslims and their long-term relationships with other communities in the country. The party has made Hyderabad, its heartland, as one of the most communally sensitive cities in the country where everyone remains in perpetual fear of communal violence breaking out anytime.

Muslim leaders, immediately after the dawn of independence had vowed to give up communal politics in free and independent India. On 28 December 1947, SA Barelwi and Maulana Ahmad Said, who was vice president of Jamiatul Ulama moved a resolution advising the Muslims to dissolve communal organizations.

“The Time has come when Muslims of all shades of opinion must take a united decision to abjure communal politics which far from serving the real interest of the masses and affording them necessary protection and security have tended to encourage social and political reactions and injured the national life by encouraging false and unnatural divisions and fostering hatred and suspicion among different communities”, said the resolution.
Gyanesh Kudaisya in his ‘Region, Nation, Heartland: Uttar Pradesh in India’s Body of Politics’ quoting Hafiz Mohammad Ibrahim, a minister in the UP cabinet and one of the organizers for dissolution of Muslim League in UP says, “…called upon the Muslims “to join the Congress and strengthen it by all possible means…there is no reason for them to get frightened or become panicky. They must maintain their courage and morale and must understand that these bloody and heart rending spectacles are the direct result of the activities of communally minded and reactionary elements.”

While many Muslims don’t love the concept of Muslim political parties and merely a fraction of Muslim population votes for them, you prop the issue of Muslim communal politics and they have a long list of Hindu communal politics. In the same breathe they also talk about the sort of hatred that people like Prawin Togadia, Yogi Adityanth and their ilk create in the society. There is no denying the fact that the number of such people is rising very fast in recent years and it has created a schism in the society that has no parallel in the recent history of India.

Nonetheless Muslims shouldn’t allow themselves to be carried away by the rabble rising of hate mongers. Communal politics is not going to help them even a bit. On the contrary they will become alienated from the mainstream, increasing the ghettoisation and further marginalization in the Indian society.