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Indian Muslims and Aam Aadmi Party
Friday December 27, 2013 5:52 PM, P. Mohammad

With the suggestion of British civil servant Allan Octavian Hume, the Indian National Congress was created on 28 December 1885 to form a platform for civic and political dialogue of educated Indians with the British Raj. After the First War of Indian Independence and the transfer of India from the East India Company to the British Empire, it was the goal of the Raj to support and justify its governance of India with the aid of English-educated Indians, who would be familiar and friendly to British culture and political thinking.

But, many Muslim community leaders viewed the Congress otherwise, seeing it as supportive of Western cultural invasion and only representative of upward mobile upper class English Educated Hindus. The same Indian National Congress became a champion of secularism of this subcontinent and safeguarded the life and liberty of Muslim Indians by producing a staunch secular leader like Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru as a first Indian Prime Minister, on whom Hindu right took swipe for being "English by Education, Muslim by Culture and Hindu by an accident".

In-spite of all suspicions and misgivings about Indian National Congress by Muslim community leaders, this organization was quite successful and captured the imagination of ordinary Indians and lead the Indian freedom struggle successfully and provided constitutionally rightful place to Muslim Indians.

In the 1970s, the Indian independence activist and political leader Jay Prakash Narayan (JP) was in opposition to Indira Gandhi as the Congress had by far failed to address the issues of poverty, lack of health care, social oppression and the prejudiced negligence of the people's concerns and gave a call for peaceful total revolution against the corrupt regime. But, even at that time many Muslim community leaders viewed this JP Movement otherwise seeing this as supportive of the cause of rightist Hindutva forces like Rashtria Swansewak Sangh (RSS).

This movement successfully created the wave among the people of India and after election first non-Congress Janata Party was formed. Janata Party did not last long but created a many young leaders from the backward community and who later become the champions of the OBC movement by implementing Mandal Commission through the VP Singh Government. The emergence of OBC leadership within the Hindi heartland can be traced back from the JP Movement.

Now as we see the upsurge of the Aam Aadmi party, Muslim community leadership once again is lagging behind in connecting themselves with the masses through popular movement and failed to create an electoral arithmetic where a vote can be easily transferred to Muslim leaders based on the development issues and this movements can create a mass leaders those are acceptable in the majority community.

The emergence of AAP through a very strong anti-corruption movement lead by Gandhian Anna Hazare was never taken seriously by Muslim leadership although people from right to left, ranging from far left like AISA-CPI(ML) to right RSS was attracted by this movement and supported this movement in Ramlila Maidan.

Most of the established Muslim institutions and their leaderships were very critical and suspicious about the emergence of this mass anti-corruption movement, barring few faces. In the democratic politics the empowerment comes only through associations with the people on the different issues and the exclusionary politics has no place in electoral democracies and even ideas and visions can be shaped after effective involvement in any democratic movements.

In the case of Indian National Congress the dominance of Lal-Bal-Pal trio was challenged by Mahatma Gandhi with his assertion through his mass movements with the help of leaders like Nehru, Sardar Patel and Maulana Azad. The leadership of Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress from very orthodox revivalist organization to very vibrant democratic and secular organization and gave a historic Constitution to India that gave rightful place to Dalit icon Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

Muslim Indian leadership have to start associating themselves with popular peoples' movements in India instead of only looking for politics of pacts and alliances as time has changed and these elitist politics of pacts and alliances will not deliver anything.

No political formation without good governance model can be successful in promoting the idea of secular India as Indian middle class will not align with such forces without delivering the quality health, education and corruption free India. Historically, the transfer of vote from majority community to Muslim leadership will only be possible through these effective peoples' alliances based on the issues that touch upon the lives of the people.

This is the time to vote and support AAP in big number in parliamentary election not because, only they have a formidable challenge to stop Modi at centre but AAP has a vision, energy and commitment with the peoples' issues and can challenge the communal agenda of fascist forces.

(P. Mohammad is an AMU alumni working in Delhi and can be reached at )

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